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THE MERRY MEN 



Worm av HoutMT Lotw i^raviuftuM 

AM INI.ANI) VOVAOr 

uniNBUnoH : ncTvnutQvm noth 

TIIAVFLI WITH A LoNKItv 

viwciNiRui n'ttninqvtt 

Jit"":'*" •TUUIB. or MBN ANO BOOK!. 

H«W ARABIAN NIONTS. »""»•. 

TBMANURB III.AND. 

THB SILVBHAIJO •rjUATTI'IIH. 

A rMll.ns nARDKN or VRMsR5. 

^BINCK OTTli. 

k" a"bT' "*■ " '•"• ^«''*'-'- -" "«. HVBC 

THK MKIIRV »|RN 

UNOBRWlxiot. 

MBMOBIM and PORTBAITt. 

THK BLACK AkBOW. 

TUB MASTER OF MAI.I.ANTRAr. 

RALLa"!"!.."**"*" • *" °"'* • "TTEH. 

ACROSS THB fLAINi. 

ISLAND NICHtS BNTBRTAINMBNTI. 

A rOOTNOTB TO HII^TORy. 

CATRIONA. 

WEIR or HBRMISTON. 

VAILIMA tBTTBRi. 

rABt.Bj). 

ROMCN or TBAVKU 

ST. IVKk. 

IN THE SOUTH SRAH. 

RSSAVS OK TRAVKL. 

TALES AND FANTASIES. 

THR AkT or WRITING. 

FRAVRRS WRITTKN AT VAtI IMA 

A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

WITH .\fHg. SxEVEWBOSf 
THB OYNAMITRR. 

WITH LtX>Yn OSBOURNB 

THE WBONO BOX. THE WRBCKEB. THE EBB-TIDE. 



I' 

i 



THE MERRY MEN 

AND OTHER TALES />ND FABLES 



BV 



KOJIKRT roriS STF^'iNsc 



)N 




151817 



TORONTO 

THK MUSSON fU)OK COMPANY 

LIMITKI) 

LONDON : CHATTO & WINDUS 



My DEAR Lady Taylor, 

To your name, if I wrote on brass, I could 
add nothing; it has been already zvritten higher 
than I could dream to reach, by a strong and a 
dear hand; and if / now dedicate to yon these 
tales, it is not as the zvritcr ivho brings you his 



ivot 



hut as the friend who ivotdd remind you 



of his affection. 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON. 



Skbrryvorb, Bovrnemovth. 



CONTENTS 



THE MERRY MEN— '*«« 
Chap. I. Eilran Aros • . . . 

II. What the Wreck had brought to Arcs 9- 

III. Land and Sea in Sandag Bay . . 35 

IV. The Gale ... ,«, 
V. A Man out of the Sea .... 52 

WILL O THE MILI ^g 

MARKHEIM 

104 

THRAWN JANET ... 

* • • • • I2o 

OLALLA . 

. 143 

THE TREASURE OF ERANCHARi:)- 

Chap. L By the Dying Mountebank . . ,201 
IL Morning Talk 20^ 

III. The Adoption . . 

214 

IV. The Education of a Philosopher . . 223 

V. Treasure Trove ... ,,- 

. 235 

VI. A Criminal Investigation, in two Parts 251 

VII. The Fall of the House of Desprez . 264 

VIII. The Wages of Philosophy . . .275 

vii 



TAr^e of the follcwins Tales Have aj,peared in the 
Comhill Magazine" : one in » Lon^^man^s" ; one 
tn Mr. Henry Norman's -Christmas Annual" • 
and one in the " Court and Society Review." The 
Author desires to make proper acknowledgfnents to 
the Publishers concerned. 



vui 



THE MERRY MEN 



the 

9ne 

" . 

lie 
to 



CHAPTER I 

f EILEAN AROS 

f It was a beautiful morning in the late July when I 
set forth on foot for the last time for Aros' A boa 
had put me ashore the night before at Gris^pol; I 
had such breakfast as the little inn afforded' aLd, 

wTa i:^::::.'^'' ^^^ --- ^^^ ^—^ 

J Tt^'L^T ^"'"^ " "'*^"" °^ '^^'^ P^«^' ^Pnng- 
mg, as I did, from an unmixed lowland stock. But 

an uncle of mine, Gordon Darnaway. after a poor 
rough youth, and some years at sea,' had married a 
youngwifem the islands; Mary Maclean she was called, 
the last of her family; and when she died in giving 
birth to a daughter, Aros, the sea-girt farm, had re 
mined m his possession. It brought him in nothing 
but he means of hfe, as I was well aware; but he wal 
a man whom lU-fortune had pursued; he feared, cum- 
bered as he was with the young child, to make a fresh 
adventure upon life; and remained in Aros, biting his 



THE MERRY MEN 



nails at destiny. Years passed over his head in that 
isolation, and brought neither help nor contentment 
Meantime our family was dying out in the lowlands; 
there is little luck for any of that race ; and perhaps my 
father was the luckiest of all, for not only was he one 
of the last to die, but he left a son to his name and a 
little money to support it. I was a student of Edin- 
burgh University, living well enough at my own charges, 
but without kith or kin ; when some news of me found 
its way to Uncle Gordon on the Ross of Grisapol ; and 
he, as he was a man who held blood thicker than water, 
wrote to me the day he heard of my existence, and 
taught me to count Aros as my home. Thus it was 
that I came to spend my vacations in that part of the 
country, so feir from all society and comfort, between 
the codfish and the moorcocks; and thus it was that 
now, when I had done with my classes, I was returning 
thither with so light a heart that July day. 

The Ross, as we call it, is a promontory neither wide 
nor high, but as rough as God made it to this day ; the 
deep sea on either hand of it, full of rugged isles and 
reefs most perilous to seamen — all overlooked from the 
eastward by some very high cliffs and the great peak 
of Ben Kyaw. The Mountain of the Mist^ they say the 
words signify in the Gaelic tongue ; and it is well named. 
For that hill-top, which is more than three thousand feet 
in height catches all the clouds that come blowing from 
the seaward ; and, indeed, I used often to think that it 
must make them for itself; since when all heaven was 
clear to the sea level, there would ever be a streamer 
on Ben Kyaw. It brought water, too, and was mossy ^ 

i Boggy. 



1 



THE MERRY MEN 
to the top in consequence. I have seen .,« .,»♦• 

made it often appear more beautiful to my eves • fnl 
when the sun struck upon the hill JL^L^ ' 

The road that I followed was a cattle-track. T. 
twistci so as nearly to double the len^h J • 
ney; it went over rough boulders MT. ""^ ^°"- 
to leap from one to a/othetinCu ^ so^^^ 
where the moss came nearly to the knee °" ^°"°"' 
no cultivation anywhere, and not one W I h' T 
miles from Grisapol to Aros Wn.? / ^^ *^° 

were-three at leL^bXty"^^ far^i: ''''' 
s de or the oth^r thof ^ °" the one 

.hem from ,h" A T'^' ™""' "^'^ ''"-'O 
\* "*c iracK. A large part of thp p«e» • 

covered »-i.h big granite ro .;^ some of hem u " 
.h» a two-roomed ho,«e. one b^ide anoLHh fe™ 
and deep heather in between them wherT hT „• 
breed. Anyway the wind was. it Z aTwav! ! ^" 
salt as on a ship; U.e gu„s 4 J^ fr^ moo'rf "^ 
over all the Ross; and whenever the ^yrLTltu 
your^eye would kindle with the brightnes'sTthe T^' 
iTom the very midst of the lanH o» o ^ l 
»<i a high spring. I ha^e h^^'^rRooTt 1™' 
I-ke a battle where it n,„s by Aros ..71 '^ 

rr;r ™'- "^ - -'^ei^^r^eti.T 
anf:;:e:t^fmeis\i^-ir-^-^^^^ 

was not properly a oiece nf t k« t> t^^'?— Aros itself 

F F y « piece of the Ross, nor was it quite an 



4 THE MERRY MEN 

wlet It formed the south-west comer of the land, fitted 
dose to it, and was in one place only separated from 
the coast by a little gut of the .ea, not forty feet across 
the narrowest. When the tide was full, this was clear 
and sull, like a pool on a land river; only there was a 
difference in the weeds and fishes, and the water itself 
was green instead of brown; but when the tide went 
out, m the bottom of the ebb, therf: was a day or two 
m every month when you could pass dryshod from 
Aros to the mainland. There was some good pasture, 
where my uncle fed the sheep he lived on; perhaps 
the feed was better because the ground rose higher 
on the islet than the main level of the Ross, but this 
I am not skilled enough to settle. The house was 
a good one ire that country, two storeys high It 
looked westward over a bay, with a pier hard by for 
a boat, and from the door you could watci the vapours 
blowing on Ben Kyaw. 

On all this part of the coast, and especially near 
Aros, -hese great granite rocks that I have spoken of 
go down together in troops into the sea, like cattle on 
a summer's day. There they stand, for all the world 
like their neighbours ashore; only the salt water sob- 
omg between them instead of the quiet earth, and 
clots of sea-pink blooming on their sides instead of 
heather; and the great sea conger to wreathe about 
the base of them instead of the poisonous viper of 
the land. On calm days you can go wandering 
between them in a boat for hours, echoes following 
you about the labyrinth; but when the sea is up, 
Heaven help the man that hears that cauldron boiling. ' 
Off the south-west end of Aros these blocks are 



THE MERRY MEN 

«T many, ud much greater in >». r j j . 

"»>" grow monstrously b^" out o f" *"' 

mtst b,. ten sea mil,. V ° "^ •<"■ "-"e 

" .hick Ta Tount^V/^r" -^ """ """ "«■» 
ing airty feet above .he tMJT. "' """' "'"* 
perilous to shins Z ,h . ^ """ ''"'"^ ^^ »" 
day, I ha:e trnJ ™m The" t ""VT "'^ '"°'^"« 
roller, breaking wht "nd htyle" «':! "° «-^^' 
and-forty buried reefs But Tl. *"'' " '* 

the danger is worst for , hi ,-^ T'" " """' '^' 
-Hi racf, make, TJX:^V^::Z:V^' ) 
we call it-at the tail of the lanH °''p, '^**«'^-a ^^^^ 

out there in a dead cal J ftie lack oUh /fn" '"° 
a strange place it is w,>K *k ''*^''.°^ '^^ tide; and 

ing upU b:ih"g";ir he ^uTdrrtf a"l'"-^ 
"ow and again a little dancinrZt.r „r V""* 

It six miles away At th. . 7 '°"'"S °^ 

the strongest of t'he buUt • ^.t ^T ^^'"^^ 
big breakers dance to^eth.; ^ V ^^ ^^^' '^^'^ 
may be called-that have tot';^ ^'"'' °' ^^^^' ^^ 
of the Mern. Men T h ^ u ''""'"' '" *^^^« P^«s. 
rur. fifty fleTh^h but ^haT ^'V "^' ^^^' '^«>^ 

only, for the spmv ^un^^ ""u"' ^' '^' ^''^'^ ^^'^^ 

/I "1 luc spray runs twice as high at th^f ii/u .1 

they got the name from their mf ^*^'^^' 

swift and antic or from th. k °'°^""'""^^' ^^^^h ar^ 
the turn of the Z. lu '^°"''"^ ^^^^ "^^^^ »bout 
more tL I :^ tdi!' " '^' ^" ^- ^^^es with i, is 



« THE MERRY MEN 

The truth is, that in a south-westerly wind, that part 
of our archipelago is no better than a trap. If a slip 
got through the reefs, and weathered the Merry Men, 
it would be to come ashore on the south coast of Aros, 
in Sandag Bay, where so many dismal things befell 
our family, as I propose to tell. The thought of all 
these dangers, in the place I knew so long, makes me 
particularly welcome the works now going forward to 
set lights upon the headlands and buoys along the 
channels of our iron-bound, inhospitable islands. 

The country people had many a story about Aros, 
as I used to hear from my uncle's man, Ror»e, an old 
servant of the Macleans, who had transferred his services 
without afterthpught on the occasion of the marriage. 
There was some tale of m unlucky creature, a sea- 
kelpie, that dwelt and did business in some fearful 
manner of his own among the boiling breakers of the 
Roost. A mermaid had once met a piper on Sandag 
beach, and there sang to him a long, bright mid- 
summer's night, so fhat in the morning he was found 
stricken crazy, and irom thenceforward, till the day he 
died, said only one form of words; what they were in 
the original Gaelic I cannot tell, but they were thus 
translated: "Ah, the sweet singing out of the sea." 
Seals that haunted on that coast have been knowii 
to speak to man in his own tongue, presaging great 
disasters. It was here that a certain saint first landed 
on his voyage out of Ireland to convert the Hebrideans. 
And, indeed, I think he had some claim to be called 
saint; for, with the boats of that past age, to make so 
rough a passage, and land on such a ticklish coast, was 
surely not far short of the miraculous. It was to him 



THE MERRY MEN y 

here^ that the islet owes its holy and beautiful name, 
the House of God. ' 

Among these old ,iv„> «orie. there was one which 
I wa, .nchned to hear with ,„ore credulity. ^1 
was told m tl,at tempest which scatte -^ the shiw 

«sf If tr"':r *™^'" °''' •" ">« "-"' '^ 

west of Scotland, one great vessel came ashore on 
Aros and before the eyes of some solitary "°" 
on a lull-top went down in a moment with Si tanS 

likt,ihood m this tale; for another of that fleet U» 
sm,k on the north side, twenty mUes from Grisanof 
It was told. I thought, with more deta.1 and^^^y 
Uian ts companion srories, and there was one oa. 
hculanty which went far to convince n.e of its truA • 
the name that is, of the ship was stii; remembered,' 

Santo they called it, a great ship of many decks of 
guns, laden with treasure and grandees of Spa^ and 
fierce soldadoes, tha, now lay fathom djp to^U 

bay, upon the west of Aros. No more salvos Tf 
ordnance for that UU ship, the "Holy Spirit," no more 
fe.r w^nds or l«ppy ventures; only to rot .'here de™ 
m the sea-tangle and hear the shoutings of the Me,^ 
Men as the tide ran high about the isfand I, wH 
a range though, to me firs, and Ust, and only^w 
Sanger as I learned the more of Spain, from wh^ 

Philip thT " ,:"\" "'""^ ' company, and King 
Ph^^ft the wealthy hng, that sent her on tha? 



• THE MERRY MEN 

And now I must tell you. u I walked from Grittpol 
that day, the Espirito Santo was very much in my 
reflections. I had been favourably remarked by our 
then Pnncipal in Edinburgh College, that famous 
writer, Dr. Robertson, and by him had been set to 
work on some papers of an ancient date to rearrange 
and sift of what was worthless; d in one of these 
to my great wonder, I found a note of this venj 
ship, the Esptrito Santo, with her capuin's name 
and hov she carried a great p£..t of the Spaniard's 
treasire, and had been lost upon the Ross of Grisapol • 
but what particular spot, the wild tribes of that 
place ajid period would give no information to the 
kings mquine^. Putting one thing with another, 
and taking our island tradition together with this 
note of old King Jamie's perquisitions after wealth, 
It had come strongly on my mind that the spot 
for which he sought in vain could be no other than 
the small bay of Sandag on my uncle's land: and 
bemg a fellow of a mechanical turn, I had ever since 
been p otting how to weigh that good ship up again 
with all her ngots, ounces, and doubloons, and brine 
bxk our house of Darnaway to its long-forgotten dignity 
and wealth. * ' 

This was a design of which I soon had re .on to 
repent. My mind was sharply turned on different 
reflections ; and since I became the witness of a strange 
judgment of God's, the thought ot dead men's treasures 
has been mtolerable to my conscience. But even 
at that time I must acquit myself of sordid greed: for 
If I desired riches, it was not for their own soke, but 
for the sake of a person who was dear to my heart 



THE MERRY MEN 5 

-my uncle'i daughter, Mary Ellen. She had been 
educated well, and had been a time to school upon 
the mainland; which, poor girl, she would have been 
happier without. For Aros was no place for her, with 
old Rorie the servant, and her father, who was one 
of the unhappiest men in Scotland, plainly bred up 
in a country place among Cameronians, long a skipper 
«ailmg out of the Clyde about the islands, and now, 
with mfimte discontent, managing his sheep and a 
little long shore fishing for the necessary bread. If it 
was sometimes weariful to me, who was there but a 
month or two, you may fancy what it was to her who 
dwelt in that same desert all the year round, with the 
sheep and flying sea-gulls, and the Merry Men singing 
and dancing in the Roost I 



CHAPTER II 

WHAT THE WRECK HAD BROUGHT TO AROS 

It was half-flood when I got the length of Aros ; and 
there was nothing for it but to stand on the far shore 
and whistle for Rorie with the boat. I had no need 
to repeat the signal. At the first sound, Mary was at 
the dcjr flying a handkerchief by way of answer 
and the old long-legged semng-man was shambling 
down the gravel to the pier. For all his hurry, it 
took him a long while to pull across the bay ; and I 
observed him several times to pause, go into the 
stem, and look over curiously into the wake. As he 
came nearer, he seemed to me aged and haggard, 



'o THE MERRY MEN 

and I thought he avoided my eye. The coble had 
been repaired, with two new thwarts and several patches 
of some rare and beautiful foreign wood, the namV of i 
unknown to me. 

« Z'll'^"''"'" ?^ '' ^ ^' ^^S^" ^^^ '^'-^ voyage, 
this IS fine wood. How came you by that?" 

"It will be nard to cheesel," Rorie opined re- 
uct^ntly; and just then, dropping the oars, 'he madt 
another of those dives into the stern which I had 
remarked as he came across to fetch me. and, leaning 
his hand on my shoulder, stared with an awful loof 
into the waters of the bay. 

" What is wrqng?" I asked, a good deal startled. 
It will be a great feesh," said the old man, re- 
turning to his oars; and nothing more could I get out 
of him but strange glances and an ominous nodding 
of the head. In spite of myself, I was infected with 
a measure of uneasiness; I turned also, and studied 
the wake. The water was still and transparent, but 
out here m the middle of the bay, exceeding deep 
For some time I could see naught; but at last it did 
seem to me as if something dark-a great fish, or 
perhaps only a shadow-followed studiously in the 
track of the moving coble. And then I remembered 
one of Rone's superstitions: how in a ferry in 
Morven, m some gjieat, exterminating feud among 
the clans, a fish, ihe like of it unknown in all 
our waters followed for some years the passage of 
the ferry-boat, until no man dared to make the 
crossing. ^ 

"He will be waiting for the right man." said Rorie 
Mary met me on the beach, and led me up ihe 



II 



THE MERRY MEN 
brae and into the house of Aros. Outside and inside 
there were many changes. The garden was fenced 
with the same wood that I had noted in the boat; 
there were chairs in the kitchen covered with strange 
brocade; curtains of brocade hung from the window; 
a clock stood silent on the dresser; a lamp of brass 
was swinging from the roof; the table was set for 
dinner with the finest of linen and silver; and all 
these new riches were displayed in the plain old 
kitchen that I knew so well, with the high-backed 
settle, and the stools, and the closet bed for Rorie; 
with the wide chimney the sun shone into, and 
the clear-smouldering peats; with the pipes on the 
mantelshelf and the three-cornered spittoons, filled 
with sea-shells instead of sand, on the floor; with the 
bare stone walls and the bare wooden floor, and the 
three patchwork rugs that were of yore its sole adorn- 
ment—poor man's patchwork, the like of it unknown 
in cities, woven with homespun, and Sunday black, 
and sea-cloth polished on the bench of rowng. The 
room, like the house, had been a sort of wonder in 
that country-side, it was so neat and habitable; and 
to see it now, shamed by these incongruous additions, 
filled me with indignation and a kind of anger. In 
view of the errand I had come upon to Aros, the 
feeling was baseless and unjust; but it burned high, 
at the first moment, in my heart. 

"Mary, girl," said I, "this is the place I had learned 
to call my home, and I do not know it." 

"It is my home by nature, not by the learning," 
she replied; "the place I was born and the place I'm 
like to die in; and I neither like these changes, nor 



It 



THE MERRY MEN 



the way they came, nor that which came with them. 
I would have liked better, under God's pleasure, they 
had gone down into the sea, and the Merry Men were 
dancing on them now." 

Mary was always serious; it was perhaps the only 
trait that she shared with her father; but the tone 
with which she uttered these words was even graver 
than of custom. 

"Ay," said I, "I feared it came by wreck, and that's 
by death ; yet when my father died, I took his goods 
without remorse." 

"Your father died a clean strae death, as the folk 
say," said Mary. 

"True," I returned; "and a wreck is Uke a judg- 
ment. What was she called ? " 

"They ca'd her the Christ-Anna^ said a voice behind 
me; and, turning round, I saw my uncle standing in 
the doorway. 

He was a sour, small, bilious man, with a long face 
and very dark eyes; fifty-six years old, sound and 
active m body, and with an air somewhat between 
that of a shepherd and that of a man following the 
sea. He never laughed, that I heard; read long at 
the Bible; prayed much, like the Cameronians he had 
been brought up ar ong; and indeed, in many ways 
used to remind me of one of the hill-preachers in the 
killing times before the Revolution. But he never 
got much comfort, nor even, as I used to think, much 
guidance, by his piety. He had his black fits when 
he was afraid of hell ; but he had Ld a rough life, to 
which he would look back with envy, and was still a 
cough, cold, gloomy man. 



THE MERRY MEN ,3 

As he came in at the door out of the sunhght with 
his bonnet on his head anri o ^- '""."snt. witli 

bu..o„-hole. he seem^ Kke Rorft T"* '" "^ 
older ^, pa,„, *e Hnes It d« L p,o gTedT™ 
nis face, and the whiioe nf i,;. l""usnca upon 

»ij . • ^ • "ni'es of his eyes were yellow Jit» 

old stamed ,vory, or the bones of the dead 

fte^rf "A^cT V j""""« "P"" '"« «"' part of 
1 1,1' J <^'*""-<'""'- Il's an awfu' name." 
1 nade hnn my salutations, and complimented him 

n^U. ,00. Of health ; for I feared h^ had perha™ 

''av-^'"n 'ThA' ^^'^''l "! ''P''^'^' ""S-^^ously enough: 
ay 'n the body and the sins of the body, like vour 
«1'. Oenner." he said abruptly to Mary anrf T^' 
ran on to me: "They-re grLd' bL^Thir that ^ 
h^e gotten, are they noP Yon's a bo„;y knock" b« 
^1 no gang; and the napery-s by ordnar. Bonny 
baimly braws; .t's for the like o' them folk selkThe 

ukn-i^m"" "^' ^r" -■'<'-'"<«"«; it's t z 

f„It ^ ' ^ "'^'^ "° '«" ^ "uckle worth 

nell and its for that reason the Scripture ca's them 
« I read Hie passage, the accursed thing. "wTe 

J'WKy should we need them at high noon?- she 

"wl7 "rfr"" "°' '" "' '""''<' fr°"> his idea. 
Well bruik^them while we may," he said; and ^ 



» Clock. 



Enjoy, 



r 



«4 



THE MERRY MEN 



1 . 



two massive candlesticks of wrought silver were added 
to the table equipage, already so unsuited to that rough 
sea-side farm. 

"She cam' ashore Februar' lo, about ten at nicht," 
he went on to me. " There was nae wind, and a sair 
run o' sea ; and she was in the sook o' the Roost, as 
I jaloose. We had seen her a' day, Rorie and me, 
beating to the wind. She wasnae a handy craft, I'm 
thinking, that Christ-Anna ; for she would neither steer 
nor stey wi' them. A sair day they had of it ; their 
hands was never aff the sheets, and it perishin' cauld— 
ower cauld to snaw ; and aye they would get a bit nip 
o' wind, and awa' again, to pit the emp'y hope into them. 
Eh, man ! butj they had a sair day for the last o't ! He 
would have had a prood, prood heart that won ashore 
upon the back o' that." 
" And were all lost ? " I cried. « God help them ! " 
" Wheesht ! » he said sternly. " Nane shall pray for 
the deid on my hearth-stane." 

I disclaimed a Popish sense for my ejaculation ; and 
he seemed to accept my disclaimer with unusual facility, 
and ran on once more upon what had evidently become 
a favourite subject. 

" We fand her in Sandag Bay, Rorie an' me, and a' 
thae braws in the inside of her. There's a kittle bit, ye 
see, about Sandag ; whiles the sook rins strong for the 
Merry Men; an' whiles again, when the tide's makin' 
hard an' ye can hear the Roost blawin' at the far-end of 
Aros, there comes a back-spang of current straucht into 
Sandag Bay. Weel, there's the thing that got the grip 
on the Christ-Anna. She but to have come in ram-stam 
an' stern forrit ; for the bows of her are aften under, and 



THE MKRRY MEN ,, 

the Uck-side of her is clear at hie-water o' neaos B,,t 
man .he dun. .ha. she cam' doon wi'X she 
struck! I^rd save u, a'! bu. i.'s an unco life ,o be a 
sailor-a cauld, wanchancy life. Mony's .he gliff I J 
mysel ,n .he great deep; and why L Lord' shou'ld 
h^ made yon u„co «.er is n,air than ever I could 

tares^the bonny green yaird, ,he halesome, canty 

And now Ihey shout and sing to Thee, 
For Thou hast made them glad, 

as the Psalms say in .he metrical version. No that 
I >..uld preen my faith .o .ha. dink neither; but S 
tt;Lra^'!:""'^r'^^'''«-osea'inshipl^ 

And in 
Great waters trading be, 
Within the deep these men God's works 
And His great wonders see. 

Weel, it's easy sayin' sae. Maybe Dauvit wasnae verv 

■nte 'b^' r"' */ '"^ ^'"' "'"''• 'f " w-^a^prentrt 
n the able, I wad whiles be temp'it to think it wasnae 

There s nae h.ng good comes oot o't but the ?sh • an' th- 
spentacle o' God riding on the tempest, to b; shi^re' 
wh.lk would be what Dauvit was Ukely et.ling a . B ' 
man, they were sair wonders tha. God showed .o .he 
CW-.4„,<,_wonders, do I ca' them? Judgment 
^ther: judgment in U>e mirk nicht among ti,e dZoS 
o the deep And their souls-to think o' that^S 



1< 



THE MERRY MEN 



souls, man, maybe no prepared I The sea— a muckle 
yett to hell ! " 

I observed, as my uncle spoke, that his voice was un- 
naturally moved and his manner unwontedly demon- 
strative. He leaned forward at these last words, for 
example, and touched me on the knee with his spread 
fingers, looking up into my face with a certain pallor, 
and I could see that his eyes shone with a deep-seated 
fire, and that the lines about his mouth were drawn and 
tremulous. 

Even the entrance of Rorie, and the beginning of 
our meal, did not detach him from his train of thought 
beyond a moment. He condescended, indeed, to ask 
me some questions as to my success at college, but I 
thought it was with half his mind; and even in his 
extempore grace, which was, as usual, long and wan- 
dering, I could find the trace of his preoccupation, 
praying, as he did, that God would "remember in 
mercy fower puir, feckless, fiddling, sinful creatures 
here by their lee-lane beside the great and dowie 
waters." 

Soon there came an interchange of speeches be- 
tween him and Rorie. 

'* Was it there ? " asked my uncle. 

" Ou, ay ! " said Rorie. 

I observed that they both spoke in a manner of 
aside, and with some show of embarrassment, and that 
Mary herself appeared to colour, and looked down on 
her plate. Partly to show my knowledge, and so re- 
lieve the party from an awkward strain, partly because 
[ was curious, I pursued the subject. 

** You mean the fish ? " I asked. 



THE MERRY MEN „ 

He spoke with great vehemence, as thouch an,m, . 

"sh^«f^, ' ™ °°' '"^ """"^ " b^ tt^' 

I ret, K °^ "'""" """ "« disputatious. ' A. S 
1 remember I retorterf Kr.M« ^ • "• .nt least 

superstitions. '^^ "^'"« "■" •"»" -^'Klish 

(C^ ^urTV" *• ^"'"8"" »««<i Uncle 
Gordon "Gude kens what they learn folk there ,t^ 

LrtX^-^-^sau^X^^ - '^S 

by dayrt; t^e LVKriTb tT '' "^^ 
If thfr.'. fcii, 1. ','"'* '"* '">a. but fearsomer. 
,. *"" [°"= «•>"«. 'here's folk in the sea-deid 
«.ey may be, but they're folk whatever; Z as for 

::vonriin\-»;:L-r-tttf 

sittm on his hunkers n a haff as trrav'c o ♦ u 
An', troth, he was a fea.:'melf ted Bjt'T 
steered naebody. Nae doobt. if a„e t^at Zl rl 
probate, ane the Lord hated, had gan byTtee ^f 
h.s smst.ll upon his stamach. nae doobt the c^atZ 
would hae lowped upo' the likes o' him. But t,"s 
deils m the deep sea would voW,. «„ . 
Eh sirs if « 1,.., 7 ^ " * commumcant! 

cLT!; '^ ^'"^ ''°°" "'' *« P"'' lads in the 

a«rf-^„«„ ye would ken by now the mercy " the 

s-s. "yehadsailedi,foras,angasme.y^:ol 

B 



I 



I 



i« THE MERRY MEN 

hate the thocht of it as I do. If ye had but used 
the een God gave ye, ye would hae learned the wicked- 
ness o' that fause, saut, cauld, bullering creature, and 
of a' that's in it by the Lord's permission: labsters 
an' partans, an' sic like, howking in the deid ; muckle, 
gutsy, blawing whales ; an' fish— the hale clan o' them 
— cauld-wamed, blind-eed uncanny ferlies. O, sirs," he 
cried, "the horror— the horror o' the sea!" 

We were all somewhat staggered by this outburst; 
and the speaker himself, after that last hoarse apos- 
trophe, appeared to sink gloomily into his own 
thoughts. But Rorie, who was greedy of superstitious 
lore, recalled him to the subject by a question. 

"You wiU not ever have seen a teevil of the sea?" 
he asked. 

"No clearly," replied the other. "I misdoobt if a 
mere man could see ane clearly and conteenue in the 
body. I hae sailed wi' a lad— they ca'd him Sandy 
Gabart ; he saw ane, shiire eneuch, an' shure en^.ach 
it was the end of him. We were seeven days oot frae 
the Clyde— a sair wark we had had— gaun north wi 
seeds an' braws an' things for the Macleod. We had 
got in ower near under the Cutchull'ns, an' had just 
gane about by Soa, an' were off on a lang tack, we 
thocht would maybe hauld as far's Copnahow. I 
mind the nicht weel; a mune smoored wi' mist; a 
fine gaun breeze upon the water, but no steedy; an' 
—what nane o' us likit to hear— anither wund gurlin' 
owerheid, amang thae fearsome, auld stane craigs o' 
the Cutchull'ns. Weel, Sandy was forrit wi' the jib 
sheet ; we couldnae see him for the mains'l, that had 
just begude to draw, when a' at ance he gied a ski''. 



THE MERRY MEN 

L;n,r;' ,;•%::.; -sr r -'• - - 

in the taps o' the Cut,;h„ir„. 7 ^ «"''*<' 

wund do I ca- j , .,^'"*';""^i '°' doon it cam>-a 

-^' a> lh». • V ** "•"«* 0' 'he Lord's an«r 

Uskevagh. an- .hrco^^rwtT^J^^^i^teTbe", ^-^ 
;;^. wm have been a me™a„rRS "'^"'^ 
A merman!" screamed my uncle wuh • 
able scorn « a.,m , , ^'*" immeasur- 

.hings a^Te^en" ' "'"" ^''"^' ^^-'^ -= - 

What like r.:T had"":? "^'r ^-"^ "=" 

n.an could say nae raair " °^ * ''"<' "P"" "" 

come ashote upo^ th™ latistd^Uclr t^' "^ 
of boats upon the s«a • nr,^ ^"acjced the crews 

inc.^u,u/>U.e„''er„th u^^^^^^ 

'Aweel, aweel," he said, "it may be sae- I „ 

^prj;. "■" ' '"' - -^ »■ --„' i!. "^^: 

obilctd' r„f a^T """ °' ""» '^-'- -^'«." 
weight. ''" "8""""" appeared to carry 



00 



THE MERRY MEN 



When dinner was over, my uncle v«»Tried me forth 
with him to a bank behind the house It was a very 
hot and quiet afternoon; scarce a npple anywhere 
upon the sea, nor any voice but the familiar voice of 
sheep and gulls; and perhaps in consequence of thii 
repose in nature, my kinsman showed himself more 
rational and tranqui? than before. He spoke evenly 
and almost cheerfully of my career, with -jvery now 
and then a reference to the lost ship or :ne trea- 
sures it had brought to Aros. For my part, I listened 
to him in a sort of trance, gazing with all my heart 
on that remembered scene, and drinking gladly the 
sea-air and ithe smoke of peats that had been lit by 
Mary. 

Perhaps a hour had passed when my uncle, who 
had all the while been covertly gazing on the surface 
of the little bay, rose to his feet and bade me follow 
his example. Now I should say that the great run of 
tide at tlie south-west end of Aros exercises a perturbing 
influence round all the coast. In Sandag Bay, to the 
south, a strong current runs at certain periods of the 
flood and ebb respectively ; but in this northern bay— 
Aros Bay, as it is called— where the house stands and 
on which my uncle was now gazing, the only sign of 
disturbance is towards the end of the ebb, and even 
then it is too slight to be remarkable. When there 
is any swell, nothing can be seen at all; but when it 
is calm, as it often is, there appear certain strange, 
undecipherable marks — sea-runes, as we may name 
them— on the glassy surface of the bay. The like is 
common in a thousand places on the coast ; and many 
a boy must have amused himself as I did, seeking to 



THE MERRY MEN „ 

an evident reluctance. "^ '°' ^'**> 

" Do ye see yon scart upo' the wat*.r ? " k- • 
"yon „e w„, the pay s Jie ? AWWeen .7"!' 
like a letter, wuU it ? " ^ ' " " "<> be 

i.-lttfr'a;."'"""*'- "'■»- Often „„„,«, 
He heaved a sigh as if heavily disappointed with m. 

"^v;reirSs?'''™'"'»=-'^'"«''^'= 

my remark. Weel, weel, but that's unco stran.. 
Maybe, it'j been there waitin' as > mT, j 
'hrough a- the weary ages Ma h.„T .''^'' '*^' 
And then, breakinroff "Ye^l n„ *«\ '"f"'" 
ye?" he asked. "° '"' ■"'"•"• "*" 

"Yes "said I. "I see another very plainly near the 
Ross s,de where the road comes down-an M » ' 

after IL pluir't "Z 'Z- "" •"'"• "«- 
he inquired. ' "" "^^ ^' "^^ »' "-at ? « 

"I had always thought it to mean Mary sir" r 
answered, growing somewhat red, convinced^; T'wJ 

"ecir^ijrron."^' ' - - -"^ "-->"■'' °^ 

But we were each following his own train of thought 
to the exclusion of the other's. My uncle once m„e 
Pa-d no attention to my words; only hung Ws S 



fl 



•s 



THE MERRY MEN 



»nd held his peace; and I might have been led to fancy 
that he had not heard me, if his next speech had not 
contained a kind of echo from my own. 

" I would say naething o' thae clavers to Mary," he 
observed, and began to walk forward. 

There is a belt of turf along the side of Aros Bay 
where walking is easy ; and it was along this that I 
siloitly followed my silent kinsman. I was perhaps 
a little disappointed at having lost so good an oppor- 
tunity to declare my love ; but I was at the same time 
far more deeply exercised at the change that had be- 
fallen my ifticle. He was never an ordinary, never, 
in the strict sense, an amiable, man; but there was 
nothing in ev^n the worst that I had known of him 
before, to prepare me for so strange a transformation. 
It was :.ijpossible to close the eyes against one fact; 
that he had, as the saying goes, something on his 
mind ; arid as I mentally ran over the different words 
which might be represented by the letter M— misery, 
mercy, marriage, money, and the like— I was arrested 
with a sort of start by the word murder. I was still 
considering the ugly sound and fatal meaning of the 
word, when the direction of our walk brought us to a 
point from which a view was to be had to either side, 
back towards Aros Bay and homestead, and forward 
on the ocean, dotted to the north with isles, and lying 
to the southward blue and open to the sky. There 
my guide came to a halt, and stood staring for awhile 
on that expanse. Then he turned to me and laid a 
hand on my arm. 

"Ye think there's naething there?" he said, pointing 
with his pipe; and then cried out aloud, with a kind 



THE MERRY MEN ,, 

there— thick hke rattons I * 

He turned at once, and, without another word, we 
retraced our steps to the house of Aros 

I was eager to be alone with Mary; yet it was not 
tall after supper, and then but for a short while, that 

about the bush, but spoke out plainly what was on my 

.hope. If that should prove well founded, we may 
aU leave and go somewhere else, secure of daily bread 

^t ""TT'' *''?'^' P^'^P'' °^ '°™*^*^i"8 f" beyond 
Out. which It would seem extravagant in me to promise. 
But there's a hope that lies nearer to my heart than 
money" And at that I paused. « You can guess foe 
what that is. Mary." I said. She looked away^^rom te 
in silence, and that was small encouragement, but i 
was not to be put off. "All my days I have thought 

Ind Tl . T' ' '°"*^""^^' "^^« »i"« goes on 
think to be happy or hearty in my life without ^ou- 
you are the apple of my eye." Still she looked away* 
and said never a word; but I thought I saw that her 
hands^^shook. "Mary." I cried in fear, "do ye no 

" O, Charlie man," she said, "is this a time to speak 
o It? Let me be, a while; let me be the way I am; 
it 11 not be you that loses by the waiting i " 

I made out by her voice that she was nearly weeping. 

"MarvX"?"'/. f"^ ''°"^'' '"' ^° compose'^hen 
Mary Ellen. I said, "say no more : I did not come to 



i iji 



I 



«4 THE MERRY MEN 

trouble you: your way shall be mine, and your time 
too ; and you have told me all I wanted. Only just this 
one thmg more : what ails you ? » 

She owned it was her father, but would enter into no 
particulars, only shook her head, and said he was not 
well and not like himself, and it was a great pity. She 
knew nothmg of the wreck. « I havenae been near it," 
^id she. "What for would I go near it, Charlie lad? 
The poor souls are gone to their account long syne • 
and I would just have wished they had ta'en their gear' 
with them— poor souls ! " 

This was karcely any great encouragement for me to 
tell her of the Espirito Santo; yet I did so, and at the 
very first word she cried out in surprise. '« There was a 
man at Grisapol," she said, "in the month of May-a 
little, yellow, black-avised body, they tell me, with gold 
rings upon his fingers, and a beard; and he was speir- 
mg high and low for that same ship." 

Ii was towards the end of April that I had been given 
these papers to sort out by Dr. Robertson : and it came 
suddenly back upon my mind that they were thus pre- 

^'k I \^r^'^ ^^'*°"^"' °^ ^ ™^" <^^»i"g himself 
such, who had come with high recommendations to the 
Principal, on a mission of inquiry as to the dispersion 
of the great Armada. Putting one thing with another, 
I fancied that the visitor '«with the gold rings upon 
his fingers" might be the same with Dr. Robertson's 
historian from Madrid. If that were so. he would be 
more likely after treasure for himself than information 
for a learned society. I made up my mind, I should 
lose no time over my undertaking; and if the ship lay 
tunk m Sandag Bay, as perhaps both he and I sup- 



THE MERRY MEN ,, 

posed it should not be for the advantage of this ringed 
«lventurer, but for Mary and r,..=,f,^d f^, ,he3 
old, honest, kindly family of th Damawar 



CHAPTER III 

lAND AND SEA IK SANDAG BAY 

I WAS early afoot next morning; and as soon as I had 

Some hmg ,n my heart distinctly told me that I should 
find the ship of the Armada; and although 1 did 

still very hght m spirits and walked upon air. Aros 
.s a very rough islet, its surface strewn with great ro^S 
and shaggy with fern and heather; and my way t 

though the whole distance was inside of two miles it 

road Upon the summit, I paused. Although not 
very high-not three hundred feet, as I think^it ye 
outtops all the neighbouring lowlands of the Ross. Jid 
commands a great view of sea and islands. The sun 
which l^d been up some time, was already hot u^on 
->y neck; the an- was listless and thundery, although 

IJm 1 .'T'^""*' ^"^ h^f-a-do^n small and 
hSofte:: K "' "^"''"" » "-y; and the 
but a solid hood of vapour. There was a threat i,^ 
the weather. The sea, it is true, was smooth like 



a6 THE MERRY MEN 

glass : even the Roost was but a seam on that wide 
mirror, and the Merry Men no more than caps of 
foam; but to my eye and ear, so long familiar with 
these places, the sea also seemed to lie uneasily: a 
sound of It, like a long sigh, mounted to me where I 
stood; and, quiet as it was, the Roost itself appeared 
to be revolving mischief. For I ought to say toat all 
we dwellers in these parts attributed, if not prescience, 
at least a quality of warning, to that strange and 
dangerous creature of the tides. 

I hurried. on, then, with the greater speed, and had 
soon descended the slope of Aros to the part that we 
call Sandag Bay. It is a pretty large piece of water 
compared with the size of the isle; well sheltered from 
all but the prevailing wind; sandy and shoal and 
bounded by low sand-hills to the west, but to the east- 
ward lymg several fathoms deep along a ledge of rocks. 
It is upon that side that, at a certain time each flood 
the current mentioned by my uncle sets so strong into 
the bay; a little later, when the Roost begins to work 
higher, an undertow runs still more strongly in the 
reverse direction; and it is the action of this last, as I 
suppose, that has scoured that part so deep. Nothing 
IS to be seen out of Sandag Bay but one small segment 
of the horizon and, in heavy weather, the breakers flying 
high over a deep sea reef. 

From half-way down the hill, I had perceived the 
wreck of February last, a brig of considerable tonnage 
lying, with her back broken, high and dry on the east 
comer of the sands ; and I was making directly towards 
It, and already almost on the margin of the turf, when 
my eyes were suddenly arrested by a spot, cleared of 



THE MERRY MEN ,7 

fern and heather, and marked by one of those long 
low, and almost human-looking mounds that we see 
so commonly in g aveyards. I stopped like a man 
shot. Nothing had been said to me of any dead 
man or interment on the island; Rone, Mary, and my 
uncle had all equally held their peace; of her at least 
I was certain that she must be ignorant; and yeJ 
here, ^fore my eyes, was proof indubitable of the 
fact. Here was a grave; and I had to ask myself, 
with a ch,ll, what manner of man lay there in his 
last sleep, awaiting the signal of the Lord in that 
solitary, sea-beat resting-place? My mind supplied no 
answer but what I feared to entertain. Shipwrecked 
at least, he must have been; perhaps, like the old 
Armada mariners, from some far and rich land over- 
sea; or perhaps one of my - . race, perishing within 
eyesight of the smoke of h - I stood awhile un- 

covered by his side, and I c.aid have desired that it 
had lain m our religion to put up some prayer for 
that unhappy stranger, or, in the old classic way, out- 
wardly to honour his misfortune. I knew, although 
his Ws lay there, a part of Aro^ till the trumpet 
sounded, his imperishable soul was forth and far away 
among the raptures of the everlasting Sabbath or the 
pangs of hell; and yet my mind misgave me even with 
a fear, that perhaps he was near me where I stood 
guarding his sepulchre, and lingering on the scene of 
nis unhappy fate. 

Certainly it was with a spirit "omewhat overshadowed 
that I turned away from the grave to the hardly less 
melancholy spectacle of the wreck. Her stem was 
above the first arc of the flood; she was broken in two 



"!i m 






m 



•8 THE MERRY MEN 

a little abaft the foremast— though indeed she had 
none, both masts having broken short in her disaster- 
and as the pitch of the beach was very sharp and 
sudden, and the bows lay many feet below the stem, 
the fracture gaped widely open, and you could see 
nght through her poor hull upon the farther side. Her 
name ^ras much defaced, and I could not make out 
dearly whether she was called ChHstiania, after the 
Norwegian city, or Christiana, after the good woman. 
Christians wife, in that old book the "Pilgrim's 
Progress." By her build she was a foreign ship, but 
I was not certain of her nationality. She had been 
painted greeri, but the colour was faded and weathered 
and the paint peeling off in strips. The wreck of the 
mainmast lay alongside, half buried in sand. She was 
a forlorn sight, indeed, and I could not look without 
emotion at the bits of rope that still hung about her 
so often handled of yore by shouting seamen; or the 
ittle scuttle where they had passed up and down to 
their affairs ; or that poor noseless angel of a figure-head 
that had dipped mto so many running billows. 

I do not know whether it came most from the ship 
or from the grave, but I fell into some melancholy 
scruples, as I stood there, leaning with one hand against 
the battered timbers. The homelessness of men and 
even of inanimate vessels, cast away upon strange shores 
came strongly in upon my mind. To make a profit of 
such pititul misadventures seemed an unmanly and a 
sordid act; and I began to think of my then quest as 
of something sacrilegious in its nature. But when I 
remembered Mary, I took heart again. My uncle 
would never consent to an imprudent marriage, nor 



THE MERRY MEN .9 

would she, as I was persuaded, wed without his fuU 
approval. It behoved me, then, to be up and doing 
for my wife; and I thought with a laugh how long 
It was since that great sea-castle, the Espirito Santo, 
had left her bones in Sandag Bay, and how weak it 
would be to consider rights so long extinguished and 
misfortunes so long forgotten in the process of time. 

I had my theory of where to seek for her remains. 
The set of the current and the soundings both pointed to 
the east side of the bay under the ledge of rocks. If 
she had been lost in Sandag Bay, and if, after these cen- 
turies, any portion of her held together, it was there that 
I should find it. The watc: deepens, as I have said, 
with great rapidity, and even close alongside the rocks 
several fathoms may be found. As I walked upon the 
edge I could see far and wide over the sandy bottom of 
the bay ; the sun shone clear and green and steady in 
the deeps ; the bay seemed rather like a great trans- 
parent crystal, as one sees them in a lapidary's shop • 
there was naught to show that it was water but an in- 
ternal trembling, a hovering within of sun-glints and 
netted shadows, and now and then a faint lap and a 
dying bubble round the edge. The shadows of the rocks 
lay out for some distance at their feet, so that my own 
shadow, moving, pauf=ing, and stooping on the »op of 
that, reached sometimes half across the bay. It was 
above all in this belt of shadows that I hunted for the 
Espirito Santo : since it was there the undertow ran 
strongest, whether in or out. Cool as the whole water 
seemed this broiling day, it looked, in that part, yet 
cooler, and had a mysterious invitation for the eyes. 
Peer as I pleased, however, I could see nothing but a 






i\ aim 



30 THE MERRY MEN 

few fishes or a bush of sea-tangle, and here and there 
a lump of rock that had fallen from above and now lav 
separate on the sandy floor. Twice did I pass from one 
end to the other of the rocks, and in the whole distance 
I could see nothing of the wreck, nor anv place but one 
where it was possible for it to be. This was a large 
terrace m five fathoms of water, raised off the surface 
of the sand to a considerable height, and looking from 
above hke a mere outgrowth of the rocks on which I 
walked. It was one mass of great sea-tangles like a 
grove, which prevented me judging of its nature, but in 
shape and size it bore some likeness to a vessel's hull 
At least It was my best chance. If the ^s/info Santo 
lay not there under the tangles, it lay nowhere at all in 
Sandag Bay; and I prepared to put the question to the 
proof, once and for all, and either go back to Aros a rich 
man or cured for ever of my dreams of wealth. 

I stripped to the skin, and stood on the extreme margin 
with my hands clasped, irresolute. The bay at that time 
was utterly quiet ; there was no sound but from a school 
of porpoises somewhere out of sight behind the point: 
yet a certain fear withheld me on the threshold of my ven- 
ture. Sad sea-feelings, scraps of my uncle's superstitions, 
thoughts of the dead, of the grave, of the old broken 
ships, drifted through my mind. But the strong sun 
upon my shoulders warmed me to the heart, and I stooped 
forward and plunged into the sea. 

It was all that I could do to catch a trail of the 
sea-tangle that grew so thickly on the terrace; but 
once so far anchored I secured myself by grasping a 
whole armful of these thick and slimy stalks, a^d, 
planting my feet against the edge, I looked around 



THE MERRY MEN 3, 

me. On all sides the clear sand stretched forth un- 
broken ; ,t came to the foot of the rocks, scoured into 
the likeness of an alley in a garden by the action of 
the tides; and before me, for as far as I could see 
nothing was visible but the same many-folded sand 
upon the sun-bright bottom of the bay. Yet the 
terrace to which I was then holding was as thick 
with strong sea-growths as a tuft of heather, and the 
cliff from which it bulged hung draped below the 
water-hne with brown lianas. In this complexity of 
forms, all swaying together in the current, things were 
hard to be distinguished; and I was still uncertain 
whether my feet were pressed upon the natural rock or 
upon the timbers of th^ Armada treasure-shio, when 
the whole tuft of tangle came away in my hand, and 
m an instant I was on the surface, and the shores of 
the bay and the bright water swam before my eyes in 
a glory of crimson. 

I clambered back upon the rocks, and threw the 
plant of tangle at my feet. Something at the same 
moment rang sharply, like a falling coin. I stooped 
and there, sure enough, crusted with the red rust! 
there lay an iron shoe-buckle. The sight of this poor 
human relic thrilled me to the heart, but not with 
hope nor fear, only with a desolate melancholy. I 
held it m my hand, and the thought of its owner 
appeared before me like the presence of an actual 
man. His weather-beaten face, his sailor's hands, his 
sea-voice hoarse with singing at the capstan, the very 
foot that had once worn that buckle and trod so much 
along the swerving decks-the whole human fact of 
him, as a creature like myself, with hair and blood 



3* THE MERRY MEN 

and seeing eyes, haunted me in that sunny, solitary 
place not like a spectre, but like some friend whom 
I had basely injured. Was the great treasure ship 
indeed below there, with her guns and chain and 
treasure as she had sailed from Spain; her decks a 
garden for the seaweed, her cabin a breeding place 
for fish, soundless but for the dredging water, motion- 
less but for the waving of the tangle upon her battle- 
ments-that old, populous, sea-riding castle, now a 
reef m Sandag Bay? Or, as I thought it likelier, 
was this a waif from the disaster of the foreign brie— 
was this shoe-buckle bought but the other day and 
worn by a man of my own period in the worid's 
history, hearing the same news from day to day. 
thmking the same thoughts, praying, perhaps, in the 
same temple with myself? However it was, I was 
assailed with dreary thoughts; my uncle's words, "the 
dead are down there," echoed in my ears; and though 
I determmed to dive once more, it was with a strong 
repugnance that I stepped forward to the margin o1 
the rocks. ^ 

A great change passed at that moment over the 

appearance of the bay. It was no more that clear. 

visible mtenor. like a house roofed with glass, where 

the green, submarine sunshine slept so stilly A 

breeze, I suppose, had flawed the surface, and a 

sort of trouble and blackness filled its bosom, wh^re 

flashes of light and clouds of shadow tossed confusedly 

together. Even the terrace below obscurely rocked 

and quivered. It seemed a graver thing to venture 

on this place of ambushes; and when I leaped into the 

sea the second time it was with a quaking in my soul. 



THE MERRY MEN 33 

I sc ured myself as at first, and groped among the 

w.vmg tangle. All that met my touch was cold and 

soft and gluey. The thicket was alive with crabs and 

lobsters, trundhng to and fro lopsidedly, and I had to 

nlhK 7 T "''^'' '^' ^"^^^^ °f ^heir carrior. 
neighbourhood. On all sides I could feel the grain 
and the clefts of hard, living stone; no planks! no 
iron not a sign of any wreck; the EsJ^iHfo San^o was 
not there. I remember I had almost a sense of relief 
in my disappointment, and I was about ready to leave 
go, when something happened that sent me to the 
surface with my heart in my mouth. I had already 
stayed somewhat late over my explorations; the 
current was freshening with the change of the tide, 
and Sandag Bay was no longer a safe place for a 
single swimmer. Well, just at the last moment there 

tTln r^vT ^"""^ °' '""^"^' ^^^^g^"g through 
the tangles like a wave. I lost one hold, was flung 

sprawling on my side, and, instinctively grasping for 

a fresh support, my fingers closed on something hard 

and cold I thmk I knew at that moment what it 

rr^K T ^ ^''""'^^ ^"^' ^°'^ °^ '^^ "^^Sle, leaped 
or the surface, and clambered out next moment on 
the friendly rocks with the bone of a man's leg m 
my grasp. ^ 

Mankind is a material creature, slow to think and 
dull to perceive connections. The grave, the wreck 
Of the bng, and the rusty shoe-buckle were surelv 
plain advertisements. A child might have read thek 
dismal story, and yet it was not until I touched that 
actual piece of mankind that the full horror of the 
chamel ocean burst upon my spirit. I laid the bone 

c 



34 THE MERRY MEN 

beside the buckle, picked up my clothes, and ran as I 
was along the rocks towards the human shore. I 
could not be far enough from the spot; no fortune 
was vast enough to tempt me back again. The bones 
of the drowned dead should henceforth roll undis- 
turbed by me, whether on tangle or minted gold. But 
as soon as I trod the good earth again, and had 
covered my nakedness against the sun, I knelt down 
over against the ruins of the brig, and out of the 
fulness of my heart prayed long and passionately for 
& poor souls upon the sea. A generous prayer is 
never presented in vain ; the petition may be refused, 
but the petitioner is always, I believe, rewarded by 
some gracious visitation. The horror, at least, was 
lifted from my mind ; jould look with calm of spirit 
on that great bright creature, God's ocean; and as I 
set off homeward up the rough sides of Aros, nothing 
remained of my concern beyond a deep determination 
to meddle no more with the spoils of wrecked vessels 
or the treasures of the dead. 

I was already some way up the hill before I paused 
to breathe and look behind me. The sight that met 
my eyes was doubly strange. 

For, first, the sform that I had foreseen was now 
advancing with almost tropical rapidity. The whole 
surface of the sea had been dulled from its conspicuous 
brightness to an ugly hue of corrugated lead ; already 
in the distance the white waves, the '* skipper's daugh- 
ters," had begun to flee before a breeze that was still 
insensible on Aros; and already along the curve of 
Sandag Bay there was a splashing run of sea that I 
could hear from where I stood. The change upon the 



THE MERRY MEN 35 

»ky was even more remarkable. There had begun to 
anse out of the south-west a huge and solid comment 
of scowhng cloud; here and there, through renls t 
us contexture, the sun still poured a sheaf of spread- 
ing rays; and here and there, from all its edges; vast 
mky streamers lay forth along the yet unclouded sky. 
The menace was express and imminent. Even as I 
gazed, the sun was blotted out. At any moment the 
tempest might fall upon Aros in its might 

The suddenness of this chang.^ of weather so fixed mv 
eyes on heaven that it was some seconds before they 
alighted on the bay, mapped out below my feet, and 
robb«i a moment later of the sun. The knoU which 
I had just surmounted overflanked a little amphi- 
theatre of lower hillocks sloping towards the sea. and 

e^^t of's .'''/'"^'r "' °' ^^^ ^^ ^^<^ -^ole 
exten of Sandag Bay. It was a scene on which I had 

often looked down, but where I had never before beheld 

ft tnTff \ ' ^'^ ^"' J*"^' ^"^"^^ »y "-^-^ "Pon 
U and left .t empty, and my wonder may be fancied 

spot. The boat was lying by the rocks. A pair of 
fellows bareheaded, with their sleeves rolled up, ana 
one with a boathook, kept her with difficulty to her 
moonngs. for the current was growing brisker every 
njomen . A httle way off upon the lelge two men b 
black clothes, whom I judged to be superior in rani 
aid their heads together over some task which at firsJ 
I did not understand, but a second after I had made 

1 InH T i'^ r' '^^'""^ ^"^^^"^^ ^'^ the compass; 
■ and just then I saw one of them unroll a sheet of 
paper and lay his finger down, as ^hough identifying 



i 



36 



THE MERRY MEN 



features in a map. Meanwhile a third was walking 
to and fro, poking among the rock.t and peering over 
the edge into the water. While I was still watching 
them with the stupefaction of surprise, my mind 
hardly yet able to work on what my eyes reported, 
this third person suddenly stooped and summoned his 
companions with a cry so loud; that it reached my ears 
upon the hill. The others ran to him, even dropping 
the compass in their hurry, and I could see the bone 
and the shoe-buckle going from hand to hand, causing 
the most unusual gesticulations of surprise and in- 
terest. Just then I could hear the seamen crying 
from the boat, and saw them point westward to that 
cloud continent which was ever the more rapidly un- 
furling its blackness over heaven. The others seemed 
to consult; but the danger was too pressing to be 
braved, and they bundled into the boat carrying my 
relics with them, and set forth out of the bay with all 
speed of oars. 

I made no more ado about the matter, but turned 
and ran for the house. Whoever these men were, it 
was fit my uncle should be instantly informed. It 
was not then altogether too late in the day for a 
descent of the Jacobites; and may be Prince Charlie, 
whom I knew my uncle to detest, was one of the three 
superiors whom I had seen upon the rock. Yet as I 
ran, leaping from rock to rock, and turned the matter 
loosely in my mind, this theory grew ever the longer 
the less welcome to my reason. The compass, the 
map, the interest awakened by the buckle, and the 
conduct of that one among the strangers who had 
looked so often below him in the water, all seemed to 



THE MERRY MEN 35 

point to a different explanation of their presence on 
that outlying, obscure islet of the western sea. The 
Madrid historian, the search instituted by Dr. Robert- 
son, the bearded stranger with the rings, my own fruit- 
less search that very morning in the deep water of 
Sandag Bay, ran together, piece by piece, in my memory, 
and I made sure that these strangers must be Spaniards 
m quest of ancient treasure and the lost ship of the 
Armada. But the people living in outlying islands, 
such as Aros, are answerable for their own security; 
there is none near by to protect or even to help them ; 
and the presence in such a spot of a crew of foreign 
adventurers— poor, greedy, and most likely lawless- 
filled me with apprehensions for my uncle's money, and 
even for the safety ot his daughter. I was still wonder- 
mg how we were to get rid of them when I came, all 
breathless, to the top of Aros. The whole world was 
shadowed over; only in the extreme east, on a hill of 
the mainland, one last gleam of sunshine lingered like 
a jewel; rain had begun to fall, not heavily, but in great 
drops ; the sea was rising with each moment, and already 
a band of white encircled Aros and the nearer coasts of 
Gnsapol. The boat was still pulling seaward, but I now 
became aware of what had been hidden from me lower 
down— a large, heavily sparred, handsome schooner 
lymg to at the south end of Aros. Since I had not 
seen her in the morning when I had looked around so 
closely at the signs of the weather, and upon these lone 
waters where a sail was rarely visible, it was clear she 
must have lain last night behind the uninhabited Eilean 
Gour, and this proved conclusively that she was manned 
by strangers to our coast, for that anchorage, though 



38 



THE MERRY MEN 



good enough to look at, is little better than a trap for 
ships. With such ignorant sailors upon so wild a coast, 
the coming gale was not unlikely to bring death upon 
its wings. 



CHAPTER IV 



THE GALE 



I FOUND my uncle at the gable end, watchmg the signs 
of the weather, with a pipe in his fingers. 

"Uncle," said I, "there were men ashore at Sandag 
Bay " 

I had no time to go further; indeed, I not only 
forgot my words, but even my weariness, so strange 
was the effect on Uncle Gordon. He dropped hia 
pipe and fell back against the end of the house with 
his jaw fallen, his eyes staring, and his long face as 
white as paper. We must have looked at one another 
silently for a quarter of a minute, before he made 
answer in this extraordinary fashion: "Had he a hair 
kep on ? " 

I knew as well as if I had been there that the man 
who now lay buried at Sandag had worn a hairy cap 
and that he had come ashore alive. For the first and 
only time I lost toleration for the man who was my 
benefactor and the father of the woman I hoped to call 
my wife. 

"These were living men," said I, "perhaps Jacobites, 
perhaps the French, perhaps pirates, perhaps adven- 
turers come here to seek the Spanish treasure ship; 



THE MERRY MEN 39 

but, whatever they may be, dangerous at least to your 
daughter and my cousin. As for your own guilty terrors, 
man, the dead sleeps well where you have laid him. I 
stood this morning by his grave; he will not wake 
before the trump of doom." 

My kinsman looked upon me, blinking, while I spoke ; 
then he fixed his eyes for a little on the ground, and 
pulled his fingers foolishly ; but it was plain that he was 
past the power of speech. 

"Come,'' said I. "You must think for others. 
You must come up the hill with me, and see this 
ship." 

He ob^ed without a word or a look, following slowly 
after my inpatient strides. The spring seemed to have 
gone out of his body, and he scrambled heavily up and 
down the rocks, instead of leaping, as he was wont, 
from one to another. Nor could ^. for all my cries, 
induce him to make better haste. Only once he re- 
plied to ne complainingly, and like one in bodily pain : 
"Ay, ay, man, I'm coming." Long before we had 
reached the top, I had no other thought for him but 
pity. If the crime had been monstrous, the punishment 
was in proportion. 

At last we emerged above the sky-line of the hill, 
and cotld see around us. All was black and stormy 
to the eye; the last gleam of sun had vanished; a 
wind had sprung up, not yet high, but gusty and 
unsteady to the point; the rain, on the other hand, 
had ce»sed. Short as was the interval, the sea already 
ran vastly higher than when I had stood there last; 
ah-eadj it had begun to break over some of the out- 
ward reefs, and already it moaned aloud in the sea* 



i 



40 THE MERRY MEN 

caves of Arcs. I looked, at first, in vain for the 
schooner. 

" There she is," I said at last. But her new position, 
and the course she was now lying, puzzled me. "They 
cannot mean to beat to sea," I cried. 

"That's what they mean," said my uncle, wiih some- 
thing like joy ; and just then the schooner went about 
and stood upon another tack, which put the question 
beyond the reach of doubt. These strangere, seeing a 
gale on hand, had thought first of sea-room. With the 
wind that threatened, in these reef-sown waters and con- 
tending against so violent a stream of tide, their course 
was certain death. 

" Good God ! " said I, " they are all lost." 
"Ay," returned my uncle, "a'— a' los:. They 
hadnae a chance but to rin for Kyle Doia. The 
gate they're gaun the noo, they couldnae wia through 
an the muckle deil were there to pilot them. Eh, 
man," he continued, touching me en the sleeve, 
"it's a braw nicht for a shipwreck! Twa in ae 
twalmonth! Eh, but the Merry Men 'U dance 
bonny ! " 

I looked at him, and it was then that I tegan to 
fancy him no longer in his right mind. He wis peer- 
ing up to me, as if for sympathy, a timid jo^ in his 
eyes. All that had passed between us was alreidy for- 
gotten in the prospect of this fresh disaster. 

"If it were not too late," I cried with indigna- 
tion, "I would take the coble and go out to warn 
them." 

"Na, na," he protested, "ye maunnae interfere; ye 
maunnae meddle wi' the like o' that. It's His "—doffing 



THE MERRY MEN 41 

his bonnet — " His wulL And, eh, man ! but it's a braw 
nicht for't ! " 

Something like fear began to creep into my soul; 
and, reminding him that I had not yet dined, I pro- 
posed we should return to the house. But no ; nothing 
would tear him from his place of outlook. 

"I maun see the hail thing, man, Cherlie," he ex- 
plained ; and then as the schooner went about a second 
time, "Eh, but they han'le her bonny!" he cried. 
"The Christ-Anna was naething to this." 

Already the men on board the schooner must have 
begun to realise some part, but not yet the twentieth, 
of the dangers that environed their doomed ship. At 
every lull of the capricious wind they must have seen 
how fast the current swept them back. Each tack 
was made shorter, as they saw how little it prevailed. 
Every moment the rising swell began to boom and 
foam upon another sunken reef; and ever and again 
a breaker would fall in sounding ruin under the very 
bows of her, and the brown reef and streaming tangle 
appear in the hollow of the wave. I tell you, they had 
to stand to their tackle : there was no idle man aboard 
that ship, God knows. It was upon the progress of 
a scene so horrible to any human-hearted man that 
my misguided uncle now pored and gloated like a 
connoisseur. As I turned to go down the hill, 
he was lying on his belly on the summit, with his 
hands stretched forth and clutching in the heather. 
He seemed rejuvenated, mind and body. 

When I got back to the house already dismally 
affected, I was still more sadly downcast at the sight 
of Mary. She had her sleeves rolled up over her 



4a 



THE MERRY MEN 



strong arms, and was quietly making bread. I got a 
bannock from the dresser and sat down to eat it in 
silence. 

" Are ye wearied, lad ? " she asked after a while. 
"I am not so much wearied, Mary," I replied, getting 
on my feet, "as I am weary of delay, and perhaps of 
Aros too. You know me well enough to judge me fairly, 
say what I like. Well, Mary, you may be sure of this : 
you had better be anywhere but here." 

"I'll be sure of one thing," she returned: "I'll be 
where my duty is." 

"You forget, you have a duty to yourself," I said. 
"Ay, man?" she replied, pounding at the dough; 
" will you have found that in the Bible, now?" 

"Mar-/," I said solemnly, "you must not laugh at 
me just low. God knows I am in no heart for laugh- 
ing. II we could get your father with us, it would be 
best; but with him or without him, I want you far 
away from here, my girl; for your own sake, and for 
mine, ay, and for your father's too, I want you far 
—far away from here. I came with other thoughts ; 
I came here as a man comes home; now it is all 
changed, and I have no desire nor hope but to flee— 
for that's the word— flee, like a bird out of the fowler's 
snare, from this accursed island." 
She had stopped her work by this time. 
"And do you think, now," said she, "do you think, 
now, I have neither eyes nor ears? Do ye think I 
havenae broken my heart to have these braws (as he 
calls them, God forgive him!) thrown into the sea? 
Do ye think I have lived with him, day in, day out, 
and not seen what you saw in an hour or two? No'* 



THE MERRY MEN 



43 



she said, "I know there's wrong in it; what wrong, 
I neither know nor want to know. There was never 
an ill thing made better by meddling, that I could 
hear of. But, my lad, you must never ask me to 
leave my father. While the breath is in his body, 
I'll be with him And he's not long for here, either : 
that I can tell you, Charlie — he's not long for here. 
The mark is on his brow; and better so — maybe 
better so." 

I was a while silent, not knowing what to say; 
and when I roused my head at last to speak, she got 
before me. 

"Charlie," she said, "what's right for me, neednae 
be right for you. There's sin upon this house and 
trouble; you are a stranger; take your things upon 
your back and go your ways to better places and to 
better folk, and if you were ever minded to come back, 
though it were twenty years syne, you would find me 
aye waiting." 

" Mary Ellen," I said, " I asked you to be my wife, 
and you said as good as yes. That's done for good. 
Wherever you are, I am; as I shall answer to my 
God." 

As I said the words, the wind suddenly burst out 
raving, and then seemed to stand still and shudder 
round the house of Aros. It was the first squall, or 
prologue, of the coming tempest, and as we started 
and looked about us, we found that a gloom, like the 
approach of evening, had settled round the house. 

"God pity all poor folks at sea ! " she said. "We'll 
Bee no more of my father till the morrow's morning." 

And then she told me, as we sat by the fire and 



44 



THE MERRY MEN 



hearkened to the rising gusts, of how this change had 
faUen upon my uncle. AU last winter he had been 
dark and fitful in his mind. Whenever the Roost ran 
high, or, as Maiy said, whenever the Merry Men were 
dancing, he would lie out for hours together on the 
Head, if it were at night, or on the top of Aros by day, 
watching the tumult of the sea, and sweeping the horizoil 
for a sail. After February the tenth, when the wealth- 
bringing wreck was cast ashore at Sandag, he had been 
at first unnaturally gay, and his excitement had never 
fallen in degree, but only changed : Kind from dark 
to darker. He neglected his work, and kept Rorie idle. 
They two would speak together by the hour at the gable 
end, in guarded tones and with an air of secrecy and 
almost of guilt; and if she questioned either, as at 
first she sometimes did, her inquiries were put aside 
with confusion. Since Rorie had first remarked the 
fish that hung about the ferry, his master had never set 
foot but once upon the mainland of the Ross. That 
once— it was in the height of the springs— he had 
passed dryshod while the tide was out; but, having 
lingered overiong on the far side, found himself cut off 
from Aros by the returning waters. It was with a 
shnek of agony that he had leaped across the gut, and 
he had reached home thereafter in a fever-fit of fear. 
A fear of the sea, a constant haunting thought of the 
sea, appeared in his talk and devotions, and even in his 
looks when he was silent 

Rorie alone came in to supper; but a little later my 
uncle appeared, took a bottle under his arm, put some 



bread in his pocket, and set forth 



again to his outlook, 



followed this time by Rorie. I heard that the schooner 



THL MERRY MEN 



45 



was losing ground, but the crew were still fighting every 
inch with hopeless ingenuity and courage ; and the news 
filled my mind with blackness. 

A little after sundown the full fury of the gale broke 
forth, such a gale as I have never seen in summer, nor, 
seeing how swiftly it had come, even in winter. Mary 
and I sat in silence, the house quaking overhead, the 
tempest howling without, the fire between us sputtering 
with raindrops. Our thoughts were far away with the 
poor fellows on the schooner, or my not less unhappy 
uncle, houseless on the promontory ; and yet ever and 
again we were startled back to ourselves, when the wind 
would rise and strike the gable like a solid body, or 
suddenly fall and draw away, so that the fire leaped into 
flame and our hearts bounded in our sides. Now the 
storm in its might would seize and shake the four 
comers of the roof, roaring like Leviathan in anger. 
Anon, in a lull, cold eddies of tempest moved shudder- 
ingly in the room, lifting the hair upon our heads and 
passing between us as we sat And again the wind 
would break forth in a chorus of melancholy sounds, 
hooting low in the chimney, wailing with flutelike soft- 
ness round the house. 

It was perhaps eight o'clock when Rorie came in and 
pulled me mysteriously to the door. My uncle, it ap- 
peared, had frightened even his constant comrade ; and 
Rorie, uneasy at his extravagance, prayed me to come 
out and share the watch. I hastened to do as I was 
asked ; the more readily as, what with fear and horror, 
and the electrical tension of the night, I was myself rest- 
less and disposed for action. I told Mary to be under 
no alarm, for I should be a safeguard on her father ; and 



4« THE MERRY MEN 

wrapping myself warmly in a plaid, I followed Rorie into 
the open air. 

The night, though we were so littld past midsummer, 
was as dark as January. Intervals of a groping twilight 
alternated with spells of utter blackness; and it was 
impossible to trace the reason of these changes in the 
flying horror of the sky. The wind blew the breath out 
of a man's nostrils; all heaven seemed to thunder over- 
head like one huge sail ; and when there fell a momentary 
luU on Aros, we could near the gusts dismally sweep- 
mg m the distance. Over all the lowlands of the Ross 
the wmd must have blown as fierce as on the opeil 
sea; and Go4 only knows the uproar that was raging 
around the head of Ben Kyaw. Sheets of mingled 
spray and rain were driven in our faces. AU round 
the isle of Aros the surf, with an incessant, hammer- 
mg thunder, beat upon the reefs and beaches. Now 
louder in one place, now lower in another, like the com- 
binations of orchestral music, the constant mass of 
sound was hardly varied for a moment. And loud above 
all this huriy-buriy I could hear the changeful voices of 
the Roost and the intermittent roaring of the Merry 
Men. At that hour, there flashed into my mind the 
reason of the name that they were called. For the 
noise of them seemed almost mirthful, as it out-topped 
the other noises of the night; or if not mirthful, yet 
instinct with a portentous joviality. Nay, and it 
seemed even human. As when savage men have 
drunk away their reason, and, discarding speech 
bawl together in their madness by the hour; so, to 
' se deadly breakers shouted by A 



the night 



m 



THE MERRY MEN 



47 



Ann in arm, and staggering i^ainst the wind, Rorie 
and I won every yard of ground with conscious effort 
We slipped on the wet sod, we fell together sprawling 
on the rocks. Bruised, drenched, beaten, and breath- 
less, it must have taken us near half an hour to get 
from the house down to the Head that overlooks 
the Roost. There, it seemed, was my uncle's favourite 
observatory. Right in the face of it, where the cliff 
is highest and most sheer, a hump of earth, like a 
parapet, makes a place of shelter from the common 
winds, where a man may sit in quiet and see the tide 
and the mad billows contending at his feet. As he 
might look down from the window of a house upon 
some street disturbance, so, from this post, he looks 
down upon the tumbling of the Merry Men. On 
such a night, of course, he peers upon a world of 
blackness, where the waters wheel and boil, where 
the waves joust together with the noise of an explosion, 
and the foam towers and vanishes in the twinkling 
of an eye. Never before had I seen the Merry Men 
thus violent. The fury, height, and transiency of their 
spoutings was a thing to be seen and not recounted. 
High over our heads on the cliff rose their white 
columns in the darkness; and the same instant, like 
phantoms, they were gone. Sometimes three at 
a time would thus aspire and vanish ; sometimes a 
gust took them, and the spray would fall about us, 
heavy as a wave. And yet the spectacle was rather 
maddening in its levity than impressive by its force. 
Thought was beaten down by the confounding uproar ; 
a gleeful vacancy possessed the brains of men, a state 
akin to madness ; and I foimd myself at times following 



48 



THE ME„IRY MEN 



the dance of the Merry Men as it were a tune upon a 
jigging instrument. 

I first caught sight of my uncle when we were stiU 
some yards away in one of the flying glimpses of 
twilight that chequered the pitch darkness of the night 
He was standing up behind the parapet, his head 
thrown back and the bottle to his mouth. As he put 
it down, he saw and recognised us with a toss of one 
hand fleeringly above his head. 

" Has he been drinking ? " shouted I to korie. 
"He will aye be drunk when the wind blaws," re- 
turned Rorie in the same high key, and it was all that 
I could do to hear him. 
" Then— was he so— in February ? " I inquired. 
Rorie's " Ay " was a cause of joy to me. The murder, 
then, had not sprung in cold blood from calculation ; 
it was an act of madness no more to be condemned 
than to be pardoned. My uncle was a dangerous mad- 
man, if you will, but he was not cruel and base as 
I had feared. Yet what a scene for a carouse, what 
an incredible vice, was this that the poor man had 
chosen ! I have always thought drunkenness a wild and 
almost fearful pleasure, rather demoniacal than human; 
but drunkenness, out here in the roaring blackness, on 
the edge of a cliff above that hell of waters, the man's 
head spinning like the Roost, his foot totterir.g on the 
edge of death, his ear watching .or the signs of ship- 
wreck, surely that, if it were credible in any one, was 
morally impossible in „ man like my uncle, whose 
mind was set upon a damnatory creed and haunted by 
the darkest superstitions. Yet so it was ; and, as we 
reached the bight of shelter and could breathe again. 



THE MERRY MEN 49 

I saw the man's eyes shining in the night with an unholy 
glimmer. 

"Eh, Charlie, man, it's grand!" he cried. "See 
to them!" he continued, dragging me to the edge 
of the abyss from whence arose that deafening clamour 
and those clouds of spray; "see to them dancin', 
man! Is that no wicked?" 

He pronounced the word with gusto, and I thought 
it suited with the scene. 

"They're yowlin' for thon schooner," he went on, 
his thin, insane voice clearly audible in the shelter of 
the bank, "an' she's comin' aye nearer, aye nearer, 
aye nearer an' nearer an' nearer; an' they kent, the 
folk kens it, they ken weel it's by wi' them. Charlie, 
lad, they're a' drunk in yon schooner, a' dozened wi* 
drink. They were a' drunk in the Christ-Anna, at the 
hinder end. There's nane could droon at sea wantin' 
the brandy. Hoot awa, what do you ken?" with a 
sudden blast of anger. " I tell ye, it t •— ^ae be ; they 
daumae droon withoot it. Ha'e," holding out the 
bottle, " tak' a sowp." 

I was about to refuse, but Rorie touched me as if 
in warning; and indeed I had ah-eady thought better 
of the movement. I took the bottle, therefore, and 
not only drank freely myself, but contrived to spill 
even more as I was doing so. It was pure spirit, and 
almost strangled me to swallow. My kinsman did not 
observe the loss, but, once more throwing back his 
head, drained the remainder to the dregs. Then, 
with a loud laugh, he cast the bottle forth among the 
Merry Men, who seemed to leap up, shouting to 
receive it 



I 



50 THE MERRY MEN 

'•Ha'e, bairns!" he cried, "there's your han'seU 
Ve'U get bonnier nor that, or morning." 

Suddenly, out in the black night before us, and 
not two hundred yards away, we heard, at a moment 
when the wind was silent, the clear note of a human 
voice. Instantly the wind swept howling down upon 
the Head, and the Roost bellowed, and churned, 
and danced with a new fury. Rut we had heard 
the sound, and we knew, with ;»:;ony, that this was 
the doomed ship now close on ruin, and that what 
we had heard was the voice of her master issuing 
his last command. Crouching together on the edge, 
we waited, str; .ling every sense, for the inevitable 
end. It wac long, however, and to us it seemed 
like ajTr-;. re the schooner suddenly appeared for one 
brief :r.3»ant, relieved against a tower of glimmering 
foam. I still see her reefed mainsail flapping loose, 
as the boom fell heavily across the deck; I still 
see the black outline of the hull, and still think I 
can distinguish the figure of a man stretched upon 
the tiller. Yet the whole sight we had of her 
passed swifter than lightning; the very wave that 
disclosed her fell burying her for ever; the mingled 
cry of many voices at the point of death rose and 
was quenched in the roaring of the Merry Men. 
And with that the tragedy was at an end. The 
strong ship, with all her gear, and the lamp per- 
haps still burning in the cabin, the lives of so many 
men, precious surely to others, dear, at least, as 
heaven to themselves, had all, in that one moment, 
gone down into the surging waters. They were gone 
like a dream. And the wind still ran and shouted, 



THE MERRY MEN 



51 



and the senseless waters in the Roost still leaped 
and tumbled as before. 

How long we lay there together, we three, speech- 
less and motionless, is more than I can tell, but it 
must have been for long. At length, one by one, and 
almost mechanically, we crawled back into the shelter 
of the bank. As I lay against the parapet, wholly 
wretched and not entirely master of my mind, I could 
hear my kinsman maundering to himself in an altered 
and melancholy mood. Now he would repeat to him- 
self with maudlin iteration, " Sic a fecht as they had — 
sic a sair fecht as they had, puir lads, puir lads ! " aiMl 
anon he would bewail that "a' the gear was as gude'i 
tint," because the ship had gone down among the 
Merry Men instead of stranding on the shore; and 
throughout, the name — the Christ- Anna — would come 
and go in his divagations, pronounced with shuddering 
awe. The storm all this time was rapidly abating. 
In half an hour the wind had fallen to a breeze, and 
the change was accompanied or caused by a heavy, 
cold, and plumping rain. I must then have fallen 
asleep, and when I came to myself, drenched, stiff, 
and unrefreshed, day had already broken, grey, wet, 
discomfortable day; the wind blew in faint and shift- 
ing capfuls, the tide was out, the Roost was at its 
lowest, and only the strong beating surf round all the 
coasts of Aros remained to witness of the furies of the 
night 



5a 



THE MERRY MEN 



CHAPTER V 

A MAN OUT OF THE SEA 

RoRiE set out for the house in search of warmth and 
breakfast ; but my uncle was bent upon examining the 
shores of Aros, and I felt it a part of duty to accompany 
him throughout. He was now docile and quiet, but 
tremulous and weak in mind and body ; and it was with 
the eagerness of a child that he pursued his exploration. 
He climbed far down upon the rocks ; on the beaches, 
he pursued the retreating breakers. The merest broken 
plank or rag of cordage was a treasure in his eyes to 
be secured at the peril of his life. To see him, with 
weak and stumbling footsteps, expose himself to the pur- 
suit of the surf, or the snares and pitfalls of the weedy 
rock, kept me in a perpetual terror. My arm was 
ready to support him, my hard clutched him by the 
skirt, I helped him to draw his pitiful discoveries be- 
yond the reach of the returning wave ; a nurse accom- 
panying a child of seven would have had no different 
experience. 

Yet, weakened as he was by the reaction from 
his madness of the night before, the passions that 
smouldered in his nature were those of a strong maa 
His terror of the sea, although conquered for the 
moment, was still undiminished; had the sea been 
a lake of living flames, he could not have shrunk 
more panically from its touch; and once, when his 
foot slipped and he plunged to the midleg into a 
pool of water, the shriek that came up out of his 



THE MERRY MEN 53 

soul was like the cry of death. He sat still for a 
while, panting like a dog, after that; but his desire 
for the spoils of shipwreck triumphed once more over 
his fears; once more he tottered among the curded 
foam; once more he crawled upon the rocks among 
the bursting bubbles; once more his whole heart 
seemed to be set on driftwood, fit, if it was fit for 
anything, to throw upon the fire. Pleased as he was 
with what he found, he still incessantly grumbled at 
his ill-fortune. 

"Aros," he said, "is no a place for wrecks ava' — 
no ava'. A* the years I've dwalt here, this ane 
maks the second ; and tli best o' the gear clean 
tint!" 

" Uncle," said I, for we were now on a stretch of open 
sand, where there was nothing to divert his mind, "I 
saw you last night, as I never thought to see you — 
you were drunk." 

" Na, na," he said, " no as bad as that I had been 
drinking, though. And to tell ye the God's truth, it's a 
thing I cannae mend. There's nae soberer man than 
me in my ordnar ; but when I hear the wind blaw in 
my lug, it's my belief that I gang gyte." 

"You are a religious man," I replied, "and this is 
sin." 

"Ou,"he returned, "if it wasnae sin, I dinnae ken 
that I would care for't. Ye see, man, it's defiance. 
There's a sair spang o' the auld sin o' the warld in 
yon sea; it's an unchristian business at the best o't; 
an' whiles when it gets up, an' the wind skreighs — 
the wind an' her are a kind of sib, I'm thinkin' — an* 
thae Merry Men, the daft callants, blawin' and lauchin', 



54 



THE MERRY MEN 



and puir souls in the deid thraws warstlin' the leelang 
nicht wi' their bit ships — weel, it comes ower me like a 
glamour. I'm a deil, I ken't. But I think naething o' 
the puir sailor lads ; I'm wi' the sea, I'm just like ane 
o' her ain Merry Men." 

I thought I should touch him in a joint of his 
harness. I turned me towards the sea ; the surf was 
running gaily, wave after wave, with their manes blow- 
ing behind them, riding one after another up the 
beach, towering, curving, falling one upon another on 
the trampled sand. Without, the salt air, the scared 
gulls, the widespread army of the sea-chargers, neighing 
to each other, as they gathered together to the assault 
of Aros ; and close before us, that line on the flat sands 
that, with all their number and their fury, they might 
never pass. 

"Thus far shalt thou go," said I, "and no farther." 
And then I quoted as solemnly as I was able a verse 
that I had often before fitted to the chorus of the 
breakers : — 

But yet the Lord that is on high, 

Is more of might by far, 
Than noise of many waters is, 

As great sea billows are. 



"Ay," said my kinsman, "at the hinder end, the 
Lord will triumph ; I dinnae misdoobt that But here 
on earth, even silly men-folk daur Him to His face. 
It is nae wise ; I am nae sayin' that it's wise ; but it's 
the pride of the eye, and it's the lust o' life, an' it's the 
wale o' pleesures." 

I said no more, for we had now begun to cross a 



THE MERRY MEN 



55 



neck of land that lay between us and Sandag; and I 
withheld my last appeal to the man's better reason 
till we should stand upon the spot associated with his 
crime. Nor did he pursue the subject ; but he walked 
beside me with a firmer step. The call that I had 
made upon his mind acted like a stimulant, and I could 
see that he had forgotten his search for worthless 
jetsam, in a profound, gloomy, and yet stirring train 
of thought In three or four minutes we had topped 
the brae and begun to go down upon Sandag. The 
wreck had been roughly handled by the sea ; the stem 
had been spun round and dragged a little lower down ; 
and perhaps the stem had been forced a little higher, 
for the two parts now lay entirely separate on the beach. 
When we came to the grave I stopped, uncovered my 
head in the thick rain, and, looking my kinsman in the 
face, addressed him. 

"A man," said I, "was in God's providence suffered 
to escape from mortal dangers ; he was poor, he was 
naked, he was wet, he was weary, he was a stranger ; he 
had every claim upon the bowels of your compassion ; 
it may be that he was the salt of the earth, holy, helpful, 
and kind ; it may be he was a man laden with iniquities 
to whom death was the beginning of torment I ask 
you in the sight of heaven : Gordon Damaway, where 
is the man for whom Christ died ? " 

He started visibly at the last words ; but there came 
no answer, and his face expressed no feeling but a 
vague alarm. 

" You were my father's brother," I continued ; " you 
have taught me to count your house as if it were my 
father's house; and we are both sinful men walking 



s« 



THE MERRY MEN 



before the Lord among the sins and dangers of this 
hfe. It IS by our evil that God leads us into good • 
we sm, I dare not say by His temptation, but I must 
say with His consent ; and to any but the brutish man 
his sms are the beginning of wisdom. God has warned 
you by this crime; He warns you still by the bloody 
grave between our feet; and if there shall follow no 
repentance, no improvement, no return to Him, what 
can we look for but the following of some memorable 
judgment ? " 

Even as I spoke the words, the eyes of my uncle 
i^ndered from my face. A change fell upon his looks 
that cannot be described; his features seemed to 
dwindle m size, the colour faded from his cheeks, one 
hand rose waveringly and pointed over my shoulder into 
the distance, and the oft-repeated name feU once more 
from his lips : " The Christ-Anna / " 

I turned; and if I was not appalled to the same 
degree, as I return thanks to Heaven that I had not 
the cause, I was still startled by the sight that met 
my eyes. The form of a man stood upright on the 
cabm-hutch of the wrecked ship; his back was to- 
wards us; he appeared to be scanning the offing with 
shaded eyes, and his figure was relieved to its full 
height, which was plainly very great, against the sea 
and sky. I have said a thousand times that 1 am not 
superstitious; but at that moment, with my mind 
running upon death and sin, the unexplained ap- 
pearance of a stranger on that sea-girt, solitary island 
fiUea me with a surprise that bordered close on terror. 
It seemed scarce possible that any human soul should 
have come ashore alive in such a sea as had raged last 



THE MERRY MEN 



57 



night along the coasts of Aros; and the only vessel 
within miles had gone down before our eyes among 
the Merry Men. I was assailed with doubts that made 
suspense unbearable, and, to put the matter to the 
touch at once, stepped forward and hailed the figure 
like a ship. 

He turned about, and I thought he started to be- 
hold us. At this my courage instantly revived, and I 
called and signed to him to draw near, and he, on his 
part, dropped immediately to the sands, and began 
slowly to approach, with many stops and hesitations. 
At each repeated mark of the man's uneasiness I grew 
the more confident myself; and I advanced another 
step, encouraging him as I did so with my head and 
hand. It was plain the castaway had heard indifferent 
accounts of our island hospitality; and indeed, about 
this time, the people farther north had a sorry re- 
putation. 

" Why," I said, " the man is black ! " 

And just at that moment, in a voice that I could 
scarce have recognised, my kinsman began swearing 
and praying in a mingled stream. I looked a: him; 
he had fallen on his knees, his face was agonised; 
at each step of the castaway's the pitch of his voice 
rose, the volubility of his utterance and the fervour 
of his language redoubled. I call it prayer, for it was 
addressed to God; but surely no such ranting incon- 
gruities were ever before addressed to the Creator by 
a creature: surely if prayer can be a sin, this mad 
harangue was sinful. I ran to my kinsman, I seized 
him by the shoulders, I dragged him to his feet. 

"Silence, man," said I, "respect your God in 



ft 



S« THE MERRY MEN 

words, if not in action. Here, on the very scene 
of your transgressions, He sends you an occasion 
of atonement. Forward and embrace it; welcome 
like a father yon creature who comes trembling to 
your mercy." 

With that, I tried to force him towards the black; 
but he felled me to the ground, burst from my grasp, 
leaving the shoulder of his jacket, and fled up the 
hillside towards the top of Aros like a deer. I stag- 
gered to my feet again, bruised and somewhat stunned; 
the negro h^d paused in surprise, perhaps in terror, 
some halfway between me and the wreck; my uncle 
was already far away, bounding from rock to rock; 
and I thus found myself torn for a time between two 
duties. But I judged, and I pray Heaven that I 
judged rightly, in favour of the poor wretch upon the 
sands ; his misfortune was at least not plainly of his 
own creation ; it was one, besides, that I could certainly 
relieve ; and I had begun by that time to regard my 
uncle as an incurable and dismal lunatic. I advanced 
accordingly towards the black, who now awaited my 
approach with folded arms, like one prepared for 
either destiny. As I came nearer, he reached forth 
his hand with a great gesture, such as I had seen from 
the pulpit, and spoke to me in something of a pulpit 
voice, but not a word was comprehensible. I tried 
him first in English, then in Gaelic, both in vain; so 
that it was clear we must rely upon the tongue of 
looks and gestures. Thereupon I signed to him to 
follow me, which he did readily and with a grave 
obeisance like a fallen king; all the while there had 
come no shade of alteration in his face, neither of 



THE MERRY MEN 



59 



anxiety while he was still waiting, nor of relief now 
that he was reassured ; if he were a slave, as I sup- 
posed, I could not but judge he must have fallen from 
some high place in his own country, and fallen as he 
was, I could not but admire his bearing. As we passed 
the grave, I paused and raised my hands and eyes to 
heaven in token of respect and sorrow for the dead; 
and he, as if in answer, bowed low and spread his 
hands abroad ; it was a strange motion, but done like 
a thing of common custom ; and I supposed it was 
ceremonial in the land from which he came. At the 
same time he pointed to my uncle, whom we could 
just see perched upon a knoll, and touched his head 
to indicate that he was mad. 

We took the long way round the shore, for I feared 
to excite my uncle if we struck across the island ; and 
as we walked, I had time enough to mature the little 
dramatic exhibition by which I hoped to satisfy my 
doubts. Accordingly, pausing on a rock, I proceeded 
to imitate before the negro the action of the man 
whom 1 had seen the day before taking bearings with 
the compass at Sandag. He understood me at once, 
and, taking the imitation out of my hands, showed 
me where the boat was, pointed out seaward as if to 
indicate the position of the schooner, and then down 
along the edge of the rock with the words " Espirito 
Santo," strangely pronounced, but clear enough for 
recognition. I had thus been right in my conjecture ; 
the pretended historical inquiry had been but a cloak 
for treasure-hunting; the man who had played on 
Dr. Robertson was the same as the foreigner who 
visited Grisapol in spring, and now, with many others, 



6o 



THE MERRY MEN 



lay dead under the Roost of Aros: there had their 
greed brought them, there should their bones be 
tossed for evermore. In the meantime the black con- 
tinued his imitation of the scene, now looking up 
skyward as though watching the approach of the 
storm ; now, in the character of a seaman, waving the 
rest to come aboard ; now as an officer, running along 
the rock and entering the boat; and anon bending 
over imaginary oars with the air of a hurried boat- 
man; but all with the same solemnity of manner, so 
that I was never even moved to smile. lastly, he 
indicated to me, by a pantomine not to be described 
in words, how he himself had gone up to examine the 
stranded wreck, and, to his grief and indignation, had 
been deserted by his comrades ; and thereupon folded 
his arms once more, and stooped his head, like one 
accepting fate. 

The mystery of his presence being thus solved for 
me, I explained to him by means of a sketch the fate 
of the vessel and of all aboard her. He showed no 
surprise nor sorrow, and, with a sudden lifting of his 
open hand, seemed to dismiss his former friends or 
masters (whichever they had been) into God's pleasure. 
Respect came upon me and grew stronger, the more I 
observed him ; I saw he had a powerful mind and a 
sober and severe character, such as I loved to com- 
mune with ; and before we reached the house of Aros 
I had almost forgotten, and wholly forgiven him, his 
uncaimy colour. 

To Mary I told all that had passed without sup- 
pression, though I own my heart failed me ; but I did 
wrong to doubt her sense of justice. 



THE MERRY MEN 



61 



"You did the right," she said. "God's wiU be 
done." And she set out meat for us at once. 

As soon as I was satisfied, I bade Rorie keep an 
eye upon the castaway, who was still eating, and set 
forth again myself to find my uncle. I had not gone 
far before I saw him sitting in the same place, upon 
the very topmost knoll, and seemingly in the same 
attitude as when I had last observed him. From that 
point, as I have said, the most of Aros and the neigh- 
bouring Ross would be spread below him like a map ; 
and it was plain that he kept a bright look-out in all 
directions, for my head had scarcely risen above the 
summit of the first ascent before he had leaped to his 
feet and turned as if to face me. I hailed him at 
once, as well as I was able, in the same tones and 
words as I had often used before, when I had come to 
summon him to dinner. He made not so much as a 
movement in reply. I passed on a little farther, and 
again tried parley, with the same result. But when I 
began a second time to advance, his insane fears 
blazed up again, and still in dead silence, but with 
incredible speed, he began to flee from before me 
along the rocky summit of the hill. An hour before, 
he had been dead weary, and I had been compara- 
tively active. But now his strength was recruited by 
the fervour of insanity, and it would have been vaiw 
for me to dream of pursuit. Nay, the very attempt, 
I thought, might have inflamed his terrors, and thus 
increased the miseries of our position. And I had 
nothing left but to turn homeward and make my sad 
report to Mary. 

She heard it, as she had heard the first, with a 



6a 



THE MERRY MEN 



concerned composure, and, bidding me lie down and 
take that rest of which I stood so much in need, set 
forth herself in quest of her misguided father. At 
that age it would have been a strange thing that put 
me from either meat or sleep ; I slept long and deep ; 
and it was already long past noon before I awoke and 
came downstairs into the kitchen. Mary, Rorie, and 
the black castaway were seated about the fire in 
silence ; and I could see that Mary had been weeping. 
There was cause enough, as I soon learned, for tears. 
First she, and then Rorie, had been forth to seek my 
uncle ; each in turn had found him perched upon the 
hill-top, and from each in turn he had silently and 
swiftly fled. Rorie had tried to chase him, but in 
vain; madness lent a new vigour ;o his bounds; he 
sprang from rock to rock over the wildest gullies; he 
scoured like the wind along the hill-tops ; he doubled 
and twisted like a hare before the dogs; and Rorie 
at length gave in; and the last that he saw, my 
uncle was seated as before upon the crest of Aros. 
Even during the hottest excitement of the chase, 
even when the fleet-footed servant had come, for 
a moment, very near to capture him, the poor lunatic 
had uttered not a sound. He fled, and he was 
silent, like a beast; and this silence had terrified 
his pursuer. 

There was something heart-breaking in the situa- 
tion. How to capture the madman, how to feed him 
in the meanwhile, and what to do with him when he 
was captured, were the three difficulties that we had to 
solve. 

"The black," said I, "is the cause of this attack. 



THE MERRY MEN 6j 

It may even be his presence in the house that keeps 
my uncle on the 'Ml. We have done the fair thing; 
he has been fed ai. warmed under this roof; now I 
propose that Rorie put him across the bay in the 
coble, and take him through the Ross as far as 
Grisapol." 

In this proposal Mary heartily concurred ; and bid- 
ding the black follow us, we all three descended to the 
pier. Certainly, Heaven's will was declared against 
Gordon Damaway; a thing had happened, never 
paralleled before in Aros ; during the storm, the coble 
had broken loose, and, striking on the rough splinters of 
the pier, now lay in four feet of water with one side 
stove in. Three days of work at least would be required 
to make her float But I was not to be beaten. I led 
the whole party round to where the gut was narrowest, 
swam to the other side, and called to the black to follow 
me. He signed, with the same clearness and quiet as 
before, that he knew not the art; and there was 
truth apparent in his signals, it would have occurred 
to none of us to doubt his truth; and that hope 
being over, we must all go back even as we came to 
the house of Aros, the negro walking in our midst 
without embarrassment. 

All we could do that day was to make one more 
attempt to communicate with the unhappy madman. 
Again he was visible on his perch; again he fled in 
silence. But food and a great cloak were at least left 
for his comfort ; the rain, besides, had cleared away, and 
the night promised to be even warm. We might com- 
pose . ourselves, we thought, until the morrow; rest was 
the chief requisite, that we might be strengthened for un- 



«4 



THE MERRY MEN 



usual exertions ; and as none cared to talk, we separated 
at an early hour. 

I lay long awake, planning a campaign for the 
morrow. I was to place the black on the side of Sandag, 
whence he should head my uncle towards the house; 
Rorie in the west, I on the east, were to complete 
the cordon, as best we might. It seemed to me, 
the more I recalled the configuration of the island, 
that it should be possible, though hard, to force him 
down upon the low ground along Aros Bay ; and once 
there, even with the strength of his madness, ultimate 
escape was hardly to be feared. It was on his terror 
of the black that I relied; for I made sure, however 
he might run, it would not be in the direction of the 
man whom he supposed to have returned from the 
dead, and thus one point of the compass at least would 
be secure. 

Wnen at length I fell asleep, it was to be awakened 
shortly after by a dream of wrecks, black men, and 
submarine adventure; and I found myself so shaken 
and fevered that I arose, descended the stair, and 
stepped out before the house. Within, Rorie and the 
black were asleep together in the kitchen ; outside was 
a wonderful clear night of stars, with here and there 
a cloud still hanging, last stragglers of the tempest. It 
was near the top of the flood, and the Merry Men 
were roaring in the windless quiet of the night. Never, 
not even in the height of the tempest, had I heard 
their song with greater awe. Now, v;hen the winds 
were gathered home, when the deep was dandling itself 
back into its summer slumber, and when the stars 
rained their gentle light over land and sea, the voice 



THE MERRY MEN $$ 

of these tide-breakers was still raised for havoc. They 
seemed, indeed, to be a part of the world's evil and 
the tragic side of life. Nor were their meaningless 
vociferations the only soimds that broke the silence 
of the night. For I could hear, now shrill and thrill- 
ing and now almost drowned, the note of a human " )ice 
that accompanied the uproar of the Roost. I knew 
it for my kinsman's; and a great fear fell upon me 
of God's judgments, and the evil in the world. 1 went 
back again into the darkness of the housr> as into a 
place of shelter, and lay long upon my bed, [>or lering 
these mysteries. 

It was late when I again woke, and I leap- d inr> 
my clothes and hurried to the kitchen. No .le 
was there; Rorie and the black had both stealthily 
departed long before ; and my heart stood still at the 
discovery. I could rely on Rorie's heart, but I placed 
no trust in his discretion. If he had thus set out 
without a word, he was plainly bent upon some service 
to my uncle. But what service could he hope to 
render even alone, far less in the company of the man 
in whom my uncle found his fears incarnated? Even 
if I were not already too late to prevent some deadly 
mischief, it was plain I must delay no longer. With 
the thought I was out of the house; and often as I 
have run on the rough sides of Aros, I never ran as I 
did that fatal morning. I do not believe I put twelve 
minutes to the whole ascent. 

My uncle was gone from his perch. The basket 
had indeed been torn open and the meat scattered on 
the turf; but, as we found afterwards, no mouthful 
had been tasted; and there was not another trace of 



^m 



i 



66 



THE MERRY MEN 



human existence in that wide field of view. Day had 
already filled the clear heavens ; the sun already lighted 
in a rosy bloom upon the crest of Ben Kyaw ; but all 
below me the rude knolls of Aros and the shield of sea 
lay steeped in the clear darkling twilight of the dawa 

"Rorie!" I cried; and again "Rorie!" My voice 
died in the silence, but there came no answer back 
If there were indeed an enterprise afoot to catch my 
uncle, it was plainly not in fleetness of foot, but in 
dexterity of stalking, that the hunters placed their 
trust. I ran on farther, keeping the higher spurs, 
and looking right and left, nor did I pause again till 
I was on the mount above Sandag. I could see the 
wreck, the uncovered belt of sand, the waves idly 
beating, the long ledge of rocks, and on either hand 
the tumbled knolls, bouiders, and gullies of the island. 
But still no human thing. 

At a stride the sunshine fell on Arc and the 
shadows and colours leaped into being. Not half a 
moment later, below me to the west, sheep began to 
scatter as in a panic. There came a cry. I saw my 
uncle running. I saw the black jump up in hot 
pursuit; and before I had time to understand, Rorie 
also had appeared, calling directions in Gaelic as to a 
dog herding sheep. 

I took to my heels to interfere, and perhaps I had 
done better to have waited where I was, for I was 
the means of cutting off the madman's last escape. 
There was nothing before him from that moment but 
the grave, the wreck, and the sea in Sandag Bay. 
And yet Heaven knows that what I did was for the 
best 



THE MERRY MEN 67 

My uncle Gordon saw in what direction, horrible 
to him, the chase was driving him. He doubled, 
darting to the right and left; but high as the fever 
ran in his veins, the black was stHl the swifter. Turn 
where he would, he was still forestalled, still driven 
toward the scene of his crime. Suddenly he began to 
shriek aloud, so that the coast re-echoed; and now 
both I and Rorie were calling on the black to stop. 
But all was vain, for it was written otherwise. The 
pursuer still ran, the chase still sped before him 
screaming; they avoided the grave, and skimmed 
close past the timbers of the wreck ; in a breath they 
had cleared the sand; and still my kinsman did not 
pause, but dashed straight into the surf; and the 
black, now almost within reach, still followed swiftly 
behind him. Rorie and I both stopped, for the thing 
was now beyond the hands of men, and these were 
the decrees of God that came to pass before our eyes. 
There was never a sharper ending. On that steep 
beach they were beyond their depth at a bound; 
neither could swim ; the black rose once for a moment 
with a throttling cry; but the current had them, 
racing seaward; and if ever they came up again, 
which God alone can tell, it would be ten minutes 
after, at the far end of Aros Roost, where the seabirds 
hover fishing. 



WILL O' THE MILL 



Thk Plain and the Stars 

The Mill where Will lived with his adopted parents 
stood in a falling valley between pinewoods and great 
mountains. Above, hill after hill soared upwards 
until they soared out of the depth of the hardiest 
timber, and stood naked against the sky. Some way 
up, a long grey village lay like a seam or a rag of vapour 
on a wooded hillside ; and when the wind was favour- 
able, the sound of the church bells would drop down, 
thin and silvery, to Will. Below, the valley grew ever 
steeper and steeper, and at the same time widened out 
on either hand; and from an eminence beside the 
mill it was possible to see its whole length and away 
bejjnd it over a wide plain, where the river turned 
and shone, and moved on from city to city on its 
voyage towards the sea. It chanced that over this 
valley there lay a pass into a neighbouring kingdom; 
so that, quiet and rural as it was, the road that ran 
along beside the river was a high thoroughfare between 
two splendid and powerful societies. All through the 
summer, travelling-carriages came crawling up, or went 
plunging briskly downwards past the mill ; and as it 
happened that the other side was very much easier of 

68 



WILL O' THE MILL 



69 



ascent, the path was not much frequented, except by 
people going in one direction ; and of all the carriages 
that Will saw go by, five-sixths were plunging briskly 
downwards and only one-sixth crawling up. Much 
more was this the case with foot-passengers. All the 
light-footed tourists, all the pedlars laden with strange 
wares, were tending downward like the river that accom- 
panied their path. Nor was this all ; for when Will was 
yet a child a disastrous war arose over a great part of 
the world. The newspapers were full of defeats and 
victories, the earth rang with cavalry hoofs, and often 
for days together and for miles around the coil of battle 
terrified good people from their labours in the field. 
Of all this, nothing was heaid for a long time in the 
valley; but at last one of the commanders pushed an 
army over the pass by forced marches, and for three 
days horse and foot, cannon and tumbril, drum and 
standard, kept pouring downward past the mill. All 
day the child stood and watched them on their passage 
—the rhythmical stride, the pale, unshaven faces tanned 
about the eyes, the discoloured regimentals and the 
tattered flags, filled him with a sense of weariness, pity, 
and wonder; and all night long, after he was in bed, 
he could hear the cannon pounding and the feet 
trampling, and the great armament sweeping onward 
and downward past the mill. No one in the valley 
ever heard the fate of the expedition, for they lay out 
of the way of gossip in those troublous times; but 
Will saw one thing plain'y, that not a man returned. 
Whither had they all gone? Whither went all the 
tourists and pedlars with strange wares? whither all 
the brisk barouches with servants in the dicky ? whither 



70 WILL a THE MILL 

the water of the stream, ever cotssing downward and 
ever renewed from above ? Even the wind blew oftener 
down the valley, and carried the dead leaves along with 
it in the fall. It seemed like a great conspiracy of 
things animate and inanimate ; they all went downward, 
fleetly and gaily downv/ard, and only he, it seemed, 
remained behind, like a stock upon the wayside. It 
sometimes made him glad when he noticed how the 
fishes kept their heads up ijtream. They, at least, stood 
faithfully by him, 'vhile all else were posting downward 
to the unknown world. 

One evening he asked the miller where the river 
went. 

"It goes down the valley," answered he, "and turns 
a power of mills — six score mills, they say, from here to 
Unterdeck— and it none the wearier after all. And 
then it goes out into the lowlands, and waters the great 
corn country, and runs through a sight of fine cities 
(so they say) where kings live all alone in great palaces, 
with a sentry walking up and down before the door. 
And it goes under bridges with stone men upon them, 
looking down and smiling so curious at the water, 
and living folks leaning their elbows on the wall and 
looking over too. And then it goes on and on, and 
down through marshes and sands, until at last it falls 
into the sea, where the ships are that bring parrots 
and tobacco from the Indies. Ay, it has a long 
trot before it as it goes singing over our weir, bless 
its heart!" 

" And what is the sea? " asked WiU. 

" The sea ! " cried the miller. " Lord help us all, 
it is the greatest thing God made ! That is where all 



WILL O' THE MILL 71 

the water in the world runs down into a great salt 
lake. There it lies, as flat as my hand and as innocent- 
like as a child ; but they do say when the wind blows 
it gets up into water-mountains bigger than any of 
ours, and swallows down great ships bigger than our 
mill, and makes such a roaring that you can hear it 
miles away upon the land. There are great fish in 
it five times bigger than a bull, and one old serpent 
as long as our river and as old as all the \ orld, with 
whiskers like a man, and a crown of silver on her 
head." 

Will thought he had never heard anything like this, 
and he kept on asking question after question about 
the world that lay away down the river, with all its perils 
and marvels, until the old miller became quite interested 
himself, and at last took him by the hand and led him 
to the hilltop that overlooks the valley and the plain. 
The sun was near setting, and hung low down in a 
cloudless sky. Everything was defined and glorified 
in golden light. Will had never seen so great an 
expanse of country in his life ; he stood and gazed with 
all his eyes. He could see the cities, and the woods 
and fields, and the bright curves of the river, and far 
away to where the rim of the plain trenched along 
the shining heavens. An overmastering emotion seized 
upon the boy, soul and body ; his heart beat so thickly 
that he could not breathe ; the scene swam before his 
eyes ; the sun seemed to wheel round and round, and 
throw off, as it turned, s'^^range shapes which disappeared 
with the rapidity of thought, and were succeeded by 
others. Will covered his face with his hands, and 
burst into a violent fit of tears ; and the poor miller, 



T".''^7'^?^SS3S.r-_ ilfSJrJ^*^ 



7« 



WILL O' THE MILL 



sadly disappointed and perplexed, saw nothing better 
for it than to take him up in his arms and carry him 
home in silence. 

From that day forward Will was full of new hopes 
and longings. Something kept tugging at his heart- 
strings; the running water carried his desires along 
with it as he dreamed over its fleeting surface; the 
wind, as it ran over innumerable tree-tops, hailed him 
with encouraging words ; branches beckoned downward ; 
the open road, as it shouldered round the angles and 
went turning and vanishing fast and faster down the 
valley, tortured him with its solicitations. He spent 
long whiles dn the eminence, looking down the river- 
shed and abroad on the fat lowlands, and watched 
the clouds that travelled forth upon the sluggish wind 
and trailed their purple shadows on the plain; or he 
would linger by the wayside, and follow the carriages 
with his eyes as they rattled downward by the river. 
It did not matter what it was; everything that went 
that way, were it cloud or carriage, bird or brown water 
in the stream, he felt his heart flow out after it in an 
ecstasy of longing. 

We are to'.d by men of science that all the ventures 
of mariners on the sea, all that counter-marching of 
tribes and races that confounds old history with its 
dust and rumour, sprang from nothing more abstruse 
than the laws of supply and demand, and a certain 
natural instinct for cheap rations. To any one think- 
ing deeply, this will seem a dull and pitiful explana- 
tion. The tribes that came swarming out of the North 
and East, if they were indeed pressed onward from 
behind by others, were drawn at the same time by 



WILL O' THE MILL 73 

the magnetic influence of the South and West. The 
fame of other lands had reached themj the name 
of the eternal city rang in their ears ; they were not 
colonists, but pilgrims; they travelled towards wine 
and gold and sunshine, but their hearts were set on 
something higher. That divine unrest, that old sting- 
ing trouble of humanity that makes all high achieve- 
ments and all miserable failure, the same that spread 
wings with Icarus, the same that sent Columbus into 
the desolate Atlantic, inspired and supported these 
barbarians on their perilous march. There is one 
legend which profoundly represents their spirit, of how 
a flying party of these wanderers encountered a very 
old man shod with iron. The old man asked them 
whither they were going ; and they answered with one 
voice : " To the Eternal City ! " He looked upon them 
gravely. "I have sought it," he said, "over the most 
part of the world. Three such pairs as I now carry 
on my feet have I worn out upon this pilgrimage, and 
now the fourth is growing slender underneath my 
steps. And all this while I have not found the city." 
And he turned and went his own way alone, leaving 
them astonished. 

And yet this would scarcely parallel the intensity of 
Will's feeling for the plain. If he could only go far 
enough out there, he felt as if his eyesight would be 
purged and clarified, as if his hearing would grow more 
delicate, and his very breath would come and go with 
luxury. He was transplanted and withering where he 
was; he lay in a strange country and was sick for 
home. Bit by bit, he pieced together broken notions 
of the world below: of the river, ever moving and 



I \ 



-2S5S^ 



74 



WILL C THE MILL 



growing until it sailed forth into the majestic ocean; 
of the cities, full of brisk and beautiful people, play- 
ing fountains, bands of music and marble palaces, and 
lighted up at night from end to end with artificial 
stars of gold ; of the great churches, wise universities, 
brave armies, and untold money lying stored in vaults ; 
of the high-flying vice that moved in the sunshine, 
and the stealth and swiftness of midnight murder. I 
have said he was sick as if for home : the figure halts. 
He was like some ono lying in twilit, formless pre- 
existence, and stretching out his hands lovingly to- 
wards many-coloured, many-sounding life. It was no 
wonder he was unhappy, he would go and tell the 
fish : thfty were made for their life, wished for no more 
than worms and running water, and a hole below a 
falling bank; but he was differently designed, full of 
desires and aspirations, itching at the fingers, lusting 
with the eyes, whom the whole variegated world could 
not satisfy with aspects. The true life, the true bright 
sunshine, lay far out upon the plain. And O ! to see 
this sunlight once before he died! to move with a 
jocund spirit in a golden land! to hear the trained 
singers and sweet church bells, and see the holiday 
gardens ! " And O fish I ' he would cry, " if you would 
only turn your noses down stream, you could swim so 
easily into the fabled waters and see the vast ships 
passing over your head like clouds, and hear the great 
water-hills making music over you all day long ! " But 
the fish kept looking patiently in their own direction, 
until Will hardly knew whether to laugh or cry. 

Hitherto the traffic on the road had passed by Will, 
like something seen in a pxture: he had perhaps 



WILL O' THE MILL 75 

exchanged salutations with a tourist, or caught sight 
of an old gentleman in a travelling cap at a carriage 
window; but for the most part it had been a mere 
symbol, which he contemplated from apart and with 
something of a superstitious feeling. A time came at 
last when this was to be changed. The miller, who was 
a greedy man in his way, and never forewent an oppor- 
tunity of honest profit, turned the mill-house into a 
little wayside inn, and, several pieces of good fortune 
falling in opportunely, built stables and got the position 
of post master on the road. It now became Will's duty 
to wait upon people, as they sat to break their fasts 
in the little arbour at the top of the mill garden; 
and you may be sure that he kept his ears open, 
and learned many new things about the outside 
world as he brought the omelette or the wine. 
Nay, he would often get into conversation with 
single guests, and by adroit questions and polite at- 
tention, not only gratify his own curiosity, but win the 
goodwill of the travellers. Many complimented the 
old couple on their serving-boy; and a professor was 
eager to take him away with him, and have him 
properly educated in the plain. The miller and his 
wife were mightily astonished and even more pleased. 
They thought it a very good thing that they should 
have opened their inn. " You see," the old man would 
remark, " he has a kind of talent for a publican ; he 
never would have made anything else ! " And so life 
wagged on in the valley, with high satisfaction to all 
concerned but Will. Every carriage that left the inn- 
door seemed to take a part of him away with it ; and 
when people jestingly offered him a lift, he could with 



76 WILL O' THE MILL 

difficulty command his emotion. Night after night 
he would dream that he was awakened by flustered 
servants, and that a splendid equipage waited at the door 
to carry him down into the plain; night after night ; until 
the dream, which had seemed all jollity to him at first, 
began to take on a colour of gravity, and the nocturnal 
summons and waiting equipage occupied a place in his 
mind as something to be both feared and hoped for. 

One day, when Will was about sixteen, a fat young 
man arrived at sunset to pass the night. He was a 
contented-looking fellow, with a jolly eye, and carried 
a knapsack. While dinner was preparing, he sat in 
the arbour to read a book ; but as soon as he had 
begun to observe Will, the book was laid aside; he 
was plainly one of those who prefer living people to 
people made of ink and paper. Will, on his part, 
although he had not been much interested in the 
stranger at first sight, soon began to take a great deal 
of pleasure in his talk, which was full of good nature 
and good sense, and at last conceived a great respect 
for his character and wisdom. They sat far into the 
night; and about two in the morning Will opened his 
heart to the young man, and told him how he longed 
to leave the valley and what bright hopes he had con- 
nected with the cities of the plain. The young man 
whistled, and then broke into a smile. 

"My young friend," he remarked, "you are a very 
curious little fellow to be sure, and wish a great many 
things which you will never get. Why, you would 
feel quite ashamed if you knew how the little fellows 
in these fairy cities of yours are all after the same sort 
of nonsense, and keep breaking their hearts to get up 



WILL C THE MILL 77 

into the mountains. And let me tell you, those who 
go down into the plains are a very short while there 
before they wish themselves heartily back again. The 
air is not so light nor so pure; nor is the sun any 
brighter. As for the beautiful men and women, you 
would see many of them in rags and many of them 
deformed with horrible disorders ; and a city is so 
hard a place for people who are poor and sensitive 
that many choose to die by their own hand." 

"You must think me very simple," answered Will. 
" Although I have never been out of this valley, believe 
me, I have used my eyes. I know how one thing 
lives on another; for instance, how the fish hangs in 
the eddy to catch his fellows; and the shepherd, who 
makes so pretty a picture carrying home the lamb, 
is only carrying it home for dinner. I do not expect 
to find all things right in your cities. That is not 
what troubles me; it might have been that once upon 
ft time ; but although I live here always, I have asked 
many questions and learned a great deal in these last 
years, and certainly enough to cure me of my old 
fancies. But you would not have me die like a dog 
and not see all that is to be seen, and do all that a 
man can do, let it be good or evil ? you would not have 
me spend all my days between this road here and the 
river, and not so much as make a motion to be up and 
live my life?— I would rather die out of hand," he 
cried, " than linger on as I am doing." 

"Thousands of people," said the young man, "live 
and die like you, and are none the less happy." 

" Ah ! " said Will, " if there are thousands who would 
like, why should not one of them have my place Y' 




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WILL O' THE MILL 



It was quite dark ; there was a hanging lamp in 
the arbour which lit up the table and the faces of the 
speakers; and along the arch, the leaves upon the 
trellis stood out illuminated against the night sky, a 
pattern of transparent green upon a dusky purple. 
The fat young man rose, and, taking Will by the arm, 
led him out under the open heavens. 

" Did you ever look at the stars?" he asked, pointing 
upwards. 

"Often and often," answered Will. 

•' And do you know what they are ? " 

" I have fancied many things." 

"They are > worlds like ours," said the young man. 
"Some of them less; many of them a million times 
greater; and some of the least sparkles that you see 
are not only worlds, but whole clusters of worlds 
turning about each other in the midst of space. We 
do not know what there may be in any of them; 
perhaps the answer to all our difficulties or the cure 
of all our sufferings: and yet we can never reach 
them ; not all the skill of the craftiest of men can fit 
out a ship for the nearest of these our neighbours, nor 
would the life of the most aged suffice for such a 
journey. When a great battle has been lost or a dear 
friend is dead, when we are hipped or in high spirits, 
there they are unweariedly shining overhead. We 
may stand down here, a whole army of us together, 
and shout until we break our hearts, and not a whisper 
reaches them. We may climb the highest mountain, 
and we are no nearer them. All we can do is to stand 
down here in the garden and take off our hats; the 
starshine lights upon our heads, and where mine is a 



WILL (y THE MILL 79 

little bald, I dare say you can see it glisten in the 
darkness. The mountain and the mouse. That is 
like to be all we shall ever have to do with Arcturus 
or Aldebaran. Can you apply a parable ? " he added, 
laying his hand upon Will's shoulder. "It is not 
the same thing as a reason, but usually vastly more 
convincing." 

Will hung his head a little, and then raised it once 
more to heaven. The stars seemed to expand and 
emit a sharper brilliancy; and as he kept turning his 
eyes higher and higher, they seemed to increase in 
multitude under his gaze. 

"I see," he said, turning to the young man. "We 
are in a rat-trap." 

"Something of that size. Did you ever see a 
squirrel turning in a cage? and another squirrel sit- 
ting philosophically over his nuts? I needn't ask 
you which of them looked more of a fool." 



:.i 



The Parson's Marjory 

After some years the old people died, both in one 
winter, very carefully tended by their adopted son, 
and very quietly mourned when they were gone. 
People who had heard of his roving fancies supposed 
he would hasten to sell the property, and go down the 
river to push his fortunes. But there was never any 
sign of such an intention on the part of Will. On the 
contrary, he had the inn set on a better footing, and 
hired a couple of servants to assist him in carrying it 
on; and there he settled down, a kind, talkative, 



So 



WILL O' THE MILL 



inscrutable young man, six feet three in liis stockings, 
with an iron constitution and a friendly voice. He 
soon began to take rank in the district as a bit of an 
oddity: it was not much to be wondered at from the 
first, for he was always full of notions, and kept call- 
ing the plainest common-sense in question; but what 
most raised the report upon him was the odd circum- 
stance of his courtship with the parson's Marjory. 

The parson's Marjory was a lass about nineteen, 
when Will would be about thirty ; well enough looking, 
and much better educated than any other girl in that 
part of the country, as became her parentage. She 
held her heid very high, and had already refused 
several offers of marriage with a grand air, which had 
got her hard names among the neighbours. For all 
that she was a good girl, and one that would have 
made any man well contented. 

Will had never seen much of her; for although 
the church and parsonage were only two miles from 
his own door, he was never known to go there but on 
Sundays. It chanced, however, that the parsonage 
fell into disrepair, and had to be dismantled ; and the 
parson and his daughter took lodgings for a month or 
so, on very much reduced terms, at Will's inn. Now, 
what with the inn, and the mill, and the old miller's 
savings, our friend was a man of substance; and 
besides that, he had a name for good temper and 
shrewdness, which make a capital portion in marriage, 
and so it was currently gossiped, among their ill- 
wishers, that the parson and his daughter had not 
chosen their temporary lodging with their eyes shut. 
WiU was about the last man in the world to be cajoled 



WILL O' THE MILL 81 

or frightened into marriage. You had only to look 
into his eyes, limpid and still like pools of water, and 
yet with a sort of clear light that seemed to come from 
within, and you would understand at once that here 
was one who knew his own mind, and would stand to 
it immovably. Marjory herself was no weakling by 
her looks, with strong, steady eyes and a resolute and 
quiet bearing. It might be a question whether she 
was not Will's match in stedfastness, after all, or 
which of them would rule the roast in marriage. But 
Marjory had nc/er given it a thought, and accom- 
panied her father with the most unshaken innocence 
and unconcern. 

The season was still so early that Will's customers 
were few and far between; but the lilacs were already 
flowering, and the weather was so mild that the party 
took dinner under the trellis, with the noise of the 
river in their ears and the woods ringing about them 
with the songs of birds. Will soon began to take a 
particular pleasure in these dinners. The parson was 
rather a dull companion, with a habit of dozing at 
table; but nothing rude or cruel ever fell from his 
lips. And as for the parson's daughter, she suited 
her surroundings with the best grace imaginable; and 
whatever she said seemed so pat and pretty that Will 
conceived a great idea of her talents. .e could see 
her face, as she leaned forward, against a background 
of rising pinewoods; her eyes shone peaceably; the 
light lay around her hair like a kerchief; something 
that was hardly a smile rippled her pale cheeks, and 
Will could not contain himself from gazing on her in 
an agreeable dismay. She looked, even in her quietest 



S2 



WILL O' THE MILL 



t 
I 



moments, so complete in herself, and so quick with 
life down to her finger tips and the very skir' ^f her 
dress, that the remainder of created things bee me no 
more than a blot by comparison, and if Will glanced 
away from her to her surroundings, the trees looked 
inanimate and senseless, the clouds hung in heaven 
like dead things, and even the mountain tops were 
disenclianted. The whole valley could not compare 
in looks with this one girl. 

Will was al,7ays observant in the society of his fellow- 
creatures ; but IiiS observation became almost painfully 
eager in the case of Marjory. He listened to all she 
uttered, and read Ler eyes, at the same time, for the 
unspoken commentary. Many kind, simple, and sincere 
speeches found an echo in his heart. He became 
conscious of a soul beautifully poised upon itself, 
nothing doubting, nothing desiring, clothed in peace. 
It was not possible to separate her thoughts from her 
appearance. The turn of her wrist, the still sound 
of her voice, the light in her eyes, tne lines of her 
body, fell in tune with her grave and gentb words, like 
the accompaniment that sustains and harmonises the 
voice of the singer. Her influence was one thing, not 
to be divided or discussed, only to be felt with grati- 
tude and joy. To Will, her presence recalled something 
of his childhood, and the thought of her took its place 
in his mind beside that of dawn, of running water, and 
of the earliest violets and lilacs. It h the property 
of things seen for the first time, or for the first time 
after long, like the flowers in spring, to reawaken in us 
the sharp edge of sense and that impression of mystic 
strangeness which otherwise passes out of life with th.: 



WILL O' THE MILL 83 

coming of years ; but the sight of a loved face is what 
renews a man's character from the fountain upwards. 

One day after dinner Will took a stroll among the 
firs ; a grave beatitude possessed him from top to toe, 
and he kept smiling to himself and the landscape as he 
went. The river ran between the stepping-stones with 
a pretty wimple; a bird sang loudly in the wood; the 
hill-tops looked immeasurably high, and as he glanced 
at them from time to time seemed to contemplate his 
movements with a beneficent but awful curiosity. His 
way took him to the eminence which overlooked the 
plain ; and there he sat down upon a stone, and fell into 
deep and pleasant thought. The plain lay abroad with 
its cities and silver river ; everything was asleep, except 
a great eddy of birds which kept rising and falling and 
going round and round in the blue air. He repeated 
Marjory's name aloud, and the sound of it gratified 
his ear. He shut his eyes, and her image sprang 
up before him, quietly luminous and attended with 
good thoughts. The river might run for ever; the 
birds fly higher and higher till ihey touched the stars. 
He saw it was empty bustle after all; for here, 
without stirring a foot, waiting patiently in his 
own narrow valley, he also had attained the better 
sunlight. 

The next day Will made a sort o<- declaration 
across the dinner-table, while the parson was filling 
his pipe. " 

"Miss Marjory," he said, "I never knew any one I 
liked so well as you. I am mostly a cold, unkindly 
sort of man ; not from want of heart, but out of strange- 
ness in my way of thinking; and people seem far 



84 



WILL (y THE MILL 



away from me.. Tis as if there were a circle round me, 
which kept everyone out but you; I can hear the others 
talking and laughing; but you come quite close. 
Maybe, this is disagreeable to you?" he asked. 
Marjory made no answer. 
" Speak up, girl," said the parson. 
"Nay, now," returned Will, "I wouldn't press her. 
parson. I feel tongue-tied myself, who am not used 
to it; and she's a woman, and little more than a child 
when all is said. But for my part, as far as I caii 
understand what people mean by it, I fancy I must 
be what they .call in love. I do not wish to be held 
as committing myself; for I may be wrong; but that 
is how I believe things are with me. And if Miss 
Marjory should feel any otherwise on her part, may- 
hap she would be so kind as shake her head." 

Marjory was silent, and gave no sign that she had 
heard. 

" How is that, parson ? " asked Will. 

"The girl must speak," replied the parson, laying 
uown his pipe. " Here's our neighbour who says he 
loves you, Madge. Do you love him, ay or no ? " 

" I think I do," said Marjory faintly. 

"Well then, that's all that could be wished !" cried 
Will heartily. And he took her hand across the table, 
and held it a moment in both of his with great 
satisfaction. 

"You must marry," observed the parson, replacing 
his pipe in his mouth. 

"Is that the right thing to do, think you?" 
demanded Will. 

« It is indispensable," said the parson. 



8s 



WILL O' THE MILL 
" Very well," replied the wooer. 
Two or three days passed away with great delight 
to Will, although a bystander might scarce have found 
It out He continued to take his meals opposite 
Marjory, and to talk with her and gaze upon her in 
her father's presence; but he made no attempt to see 
her alone, nor In any other way changed his conduct 
towards her from what it had been since the begin- 
ning. Perhaps the girl was a little disappointed, and 
perhaps not unjustly; and yet if it had been enough 
to be always in the thoughts of another person, and 
so pervade and alter his whole life, she might have 
been thoroughly contented. For she was never out 
of Will's mind for an instant. He sat over the 
stream, and watched the dust of the eddy, and the 
poised fish, and straining weeds; he wandered out 
alone into the purple even, with all the blackbirds 
piping round him in the wood ; he rose early in the 
morning, and saw the sky turn from grey to gold, 
and the light leap upon the hill-tops; and all the 
while he kept wondering if he had never seen such 
things before, or how it was that they should look so 
different now. The sound of his own mill-wheel, or 
of the wind among the trees, confounded and charmed 
his heart. The most enchanting thoughts presented 
themselves unbidden in his mind. He was so happy 
that he could not sleep at night, and so restless that 
he could hardly sit still out of her company. And yet 
It seemed as if he avoided her rather than sought her 
out. 

One day, as he was coming home from a ramble, 
Will found Marjory in the garden picking flowers, and 



86 



WILL O' THE MILL 



as he came up with her, slackened his pace and con- 
tinued walking by her side. 

" You like flowers ? " he said. 

"Indeed I love them dearly," she replied. "Do 
you?" 

"Why, no," said he, "not so much. They are a 
very small affair, when all is done. I can fancy 
people caring for them greai.^, but not doing as you 
are just now." 

" How ? " she asked, pausing and looking up at 
him. 

"Plucking t'-em," said he. "They a.j a deal 
better off where they are, and look a deal prettier, 
if you go to that." 

" I wish to have them for my own," she answered, 
" to carry th-m near my heart, and keep them in my 
room. They tempt me when they grow here; they 
seem to say, 'Come and do something with us;' but 
once I have cut them and put them by, the charm 
is laid, and I can look at them with quife an easy 
heart." 

" You wish to possess them," replied Will, " in order 

to think no more about them. It's a bit like killing 

the goose with the golden eggs. It's a bit like what 

I wished to do when I was a boy. Beca ise I had a 

fancy for looking out over the plain, I wisLed to go 

down there — where I couldn't look out over i* any 

longer. Was not that fine reasoning? Dear, dear, 

if they only thought of it, all the world would do like 

me; and you would let your flowers alone, just as I 

stay up here in the mountains." Suddenly he broke 

off sharp. " By the Lord ! " he cried. And when she 



O' THE MILL 87 

asked him what w«' Tong, he turned the question off, 
and walked away into the house with rather i humor- 
ous expression of face. 

He was silent at table; and after the night had 
fallen and the stars had come out overhead, he walked 
up and down for hours in the courtyard and garden 
with an uneven pace. There was still a light in the 
window of Marjory's room: one little oblong patch of 
orange in a world of dark blue hills and silver starlight. 
Will's mind lan a great deal on the window; but his 
thoughts were not very lover-like. " Th^'/e she is in her 
room," he thought, "and there are tW, stars overhead: 
-a blessing upon both I " Both were good influences 
in his life; both soothed and braced him in his pro- 
found contentment with the world. And what more 
should he desire with either? The fat young man 
and his councils were so present to his mind, that 
he threw back his head, and, putting hij hands before 
his mouth, shouted . jud to the populous heavens. 
Whether from the position of his head or the cudden 
strain of the exertion, he seemed to se*^ a momentary 
shock among the stars, and a diffusion ot frosty lig' t 
pass from one to another alon<5 the sky. At the same 
instant, a corner of the blind was lifted and lowered 
again at once. He laughed a loud ho-ho ! " One and 
another ! " thought Will. « The stars tremble, and the 
blind goes up. Why, before Heaven, what a gre*: 
magician I must be! Now if I were only a fool, 
should not I be in a pretty way ? " And he went off 
to bed, chuckling to himself: '* If I were only a fool ! " 

The next morning, pretty early, he saw her once 
more in the garden, and sought her out. 



88 WILL O' THE MILL 

" I have been thinking about getting married," he 
began abruptly; "and after having turned it all over. 
I have made up my mind it's not worth while." 

She turned upon him for a single moment; but his 
radiant, kmdly appearance would, under the circum- 
stances, have disconcerted an angel, and she looked 
down agam upon the ground in silence. He could 
see her tremble. 

"I hope vou don't mind," he went on, a little taken 
aback. "You ought not. I have turned it all over, 
and upoa my soul there's nothing in it. We should 
never be one whit nearer than we are just now, and. 
if I am a wise man, nothing like so happy." 

"It is unnecessary to go round about with me," she 
said. "I very well remember that you refused to 
commit yourself; and now that I see you were mis- 
taken, and in reality have never cared for me, I can 
only feel sad that I have been so far misled." 

"I ask your pardon," said Will stoutly; "you do 
not understand my meaning. As to whether I have 
ever loved you or not, I must leave that to others. 
But for one thing, my feeling is not changed; and 
for another, you may make it your boast that you 
have made my whole life and character something 
different from what they were. I mean what I say; 
no less. I do not think getting married is worth 
while. I would rather you went on living with your 
father, so that I could walk over and see you once, 
or maybe twice a week, as people go to church, and 
then we should both be all the happier between whiles. 
That's my notion. But I'U marry you if you will" 
he added. ' 



I 



WILL O' THE MILL 89 

"Do you know that you are insulting me?" she 
broke out. 

••Not I, Marjory," said he; '-if there is anything 
in a cicar conscience, not I. I offer all my heart's 
best affection ; you can take it or want it, though I 
suspect it's beyond either your power or mine to 
change what has once been done, and set me fancy- 
free. I'll marry you, if you like ; but I tell you again 
and again, it's not worth while, and we had best stay 
friends. Though I am a quiet man I have noticed a 
heap of things in my life. Trust in me, and take 
things as I propose; or, if you don't like that, say 
the word, and I'll marry you out of hand.'' 

There was a considerable pause, and Will, who began 
to feel uneasy, began to grow angry in consequence. 

"It seems you are too proud to say your mind," 
he said. "Believe me that's a pity. A clean shrift 
makes simple living. Can a man be more downright 
or h-^nourable to a woman than I have been ? I have 
said .ny say, and given you your choice. Do you want 
me to marry you? or will you take my friendship, as 
I think best? or have you had enough of me for 
good ? Speak out for the dear God's sake ! You know 
your father told you a girl should speak her mind in 
these affairs." 

She seemed to recover herself at that, turned 
without a word, walked rapidly through the garden, 
and disappeared into the house, leaving Will in some 
confusion as to the result. He walked up and down 
the garden, whistling softly to himself. Sometimes 
he stopped and contemplated the sky and hill-tops; 
sometimes he went down to the tail of the weir and 



90 WILL O' THE MILL 

sat there, looking foolishly in the water. All this 
dubiety and perturbation was so foreign to his nature 
and the life which he had resolutely chosen for himself, 
that he began to regret Marjory's arrival. « After all," 
he thought, "I was as happy as a man need be. I 
could come down here and watch my fishes all day 
long if I wanted; I was as settled and contented as 
my old mill." 

Marjory came down to dinner, looking very trim 
and quiet ; and no sooner were all three at table than 
she made her father a speech, with her eyes fixed upon 
her plate, but showing no other sign of embarrassment 
or distress. 

"Father," she began, " Mr. Will and I have been 
talking things over. We see that we have each made 
a mistake about our feelings, and he has agreed, at my 
request, to give up all idea of marriage, and be no 
more than my very good friend, as in the past. You 
see, there is no shadow of a quarrel, and indeed I 
hope we shall see a great deal of him in the future, 
for his visits will always be welcome in oui house. Of 
course, father, you will know best, but perhaps we 
should do better to leave Mr. Will's house for the 
present. I believe, after what has passed, we should 
hardly be agreeable inmates for some days." 

Will, who had commanded himself with diflSculty 
from the first, broke out upon this into an inarticulate 
noise, and raised one hand with an appearance of 
real dismay, as if he were about to interfere and 
contradict. But she checked him at once, looking up 
at him with a swift glance and an angry flush upon 
her cheek. 



WILL <y THE MILL 



9> 






"You will perhaps have the good giace," she said, 
"to let me explain these matters for myself." 

Will was put entirely out of countenance by her 
expression and the ring of her voice. He held his 
peace, concluding that there were some things about 
this girl beyond his comprehension, in which he was 
exactly right. 

The poor parson was quite crestfallen. He tried 
to prove that this was no more than a true lovers' tiff, 
which would pass off before night : ind when he was 
dislodged from that position, he went on to argue that 
where there was no quarrel there could be no call for 
a separation; for the good man liked both his enter- 
tainment and his host. It was curious to see how 
the girl managed them, saying little all the time, and 
that very quietly, and yet twisting them round her 
finger and insensibly leading them wherever she 
would by feminine tact and generalship. It scarcely 
seemed to have been her doing — it seemed as if things 
had merely so fallen out— that she and her father 
took their departure that same afternoon in a farm- 
cart, and went farther down the valley, to wait, until 
their own house was ready for them, in another hamlet. 
But Will had been observing closely, and was well 
aware of her dexterity and resolution. When he 
found himself alone he had a great many curious 
matters to turn over in his mind. He was very sad 
and solitary, to begin with. All the interest had gone 
out of his life, and he might look up at the stars as 
long as he pleased, he somehow failed to find support 
or consolation. And then he was in such a turmoil 
of spirit about Marjory. He had been puzzled and 



Is 



9« WILL O' THE MILL 

irritated at her behaviour, and yet he could not keep 
himself from admiring it. He thought he recognised 
a fine, perverse angel in that still soul which he had 
never hitherto suspected; and though he saw it was 
an influence that would fit but ill with his own life 
of artificial calm, he could not keep himself from 
ardently desiring to possess it. Like a man who has 
hved among shadows and now m'-sts the sun, he was 
both pained and delighted. 

As the days went forward he passed from one 
extreme to another; now pluming himself on the 
strength of his determination, now despising his timid 
and silly caution. The former was, perhaps, the true 
thought of his heart, and represented the regular 
tenor of the man's reflections; but the latter burst 
forth from time to time with an unruly violence, and 
then he would forget all consideration, and go up and 
down his house and garden or walk among the fir- 
woods like one who is beside himself with remorse. 
To equable, steady-minded Will this state of matters 
was intolerable; and he determined, at whatever cost, 
to bring it to an end. So, one warm summer after- 
noon he put on his best clothes, took a thorn switch 
m his hand, and set out down the valley by the river. 
As soon as he had taken his determination, he had 
regained at a bound his customary peace of heart, 
and he enjoyed the bright weather and the variety 
of the scene without any admixture of alarm or un- 
pleasant eagerness. If was nearly the same to him 
how the matter turned out. If she accepted him he 
would have to marry her this time, which perhaps 
was all for the best. If she refused him, he would 



WILL O* THE MILL 93 

have done his utmost, and might follow his own way 
in the future with an untroubled conscience. He 
hoped, on the whole, she would refuse him; and 
then, again, as he saw the brown roof which sheltered 
her, peeping through some willows at an angle of the 
stream, he was half inclined to reverse the wish, and 
more than half ashamed of himself for this infirmity 
of purpose. 

Marjory seemed glad to see him, and gave him her 
hand without affectation or delay. 

"I have been thinking about this marriage," he 
began. 

"So have I," she answered. "And I respect you 
more and more for a very wise man. You understood 
me better than I understood myself; and I am now 
quite certain that things are all for the best as they 
are." 

" At the same time ," ventured Will. 

"You must be tired," she interrupted. "Take a 
seat and let me fetch you a glass of wine. The after- 
noon is so warm ; and I wish you not to be displeased 
with your visit. You must come quite often; once a 
week, if you can spare the time ; I am always so glad 
to see my friends." 

"O, very well," thought Will to himself. "It ap- 
pears I was right after all." And he paid a very 
agreeable visit, walked home again in capital spirits, and 
gave himself no further concern about the matter. 

For nearly three years Will and Marjory continued 
on these terms, seeing each other once or twice a 
week without any word of love between them; and 
for all that time I believe Will was nearly as happy 



\^ 



94 



WILL O' THE MILL 



as a man can be. He rather stinted himself the 
pleasure of seeing her; and he would often walk half- 
way over to the parsonage, and then back again, as 
if to whet his appetite. Indeed there was one comer 
of the road, whence he could see the church-spire 
wedged into a crevice of the valley between sloping 
firwoods, with a triangular snatch of plain by way of 
background, which he greatly affected as a place to 
sit and moralise in before returning homewards; and 
the peasants got so much into the habit of finding 
him there in the twilight that they gave it the name 
of " Will o' the Mill's Corner." 

At the end of the three years Marjory played him 
a sad trick by suddenly marrying somebody else. 
Will kept his countenance bravely, and merely 
remarked that, for as little as he knew of women, he 
had acted very prudently in not marrying her himself 
three years before. She plainly knew very little of 
her own mind, and, in spite of a deceptive manner, 
was as fickle and flighty as the rest of them. He had 
to congratulate himself on an escape, he said, and 
would take a higher opinion of his own wisdom in 
consequence. But at heart, he was reasonably dis- 
pleased, moped a good deal for a month or two, and 
fell away in flesh, to the astonishment of his serving- 
lads. 

It was perhaps a year after this marriage that Will 
was awakened late one night by the sound of a horse 
galloping on the road, followed by precipitate knocking 
at the inn-door. He opened his window and saw a 
farm servant, mounted and holding a led horse by 
the bridle, who told him to make what haste he could 



WILL O' THE MILL 95 

and go along ^ith him; for Marjory was dying, and 
had sent urgently to fetch him to her bedside. Will 
was no horseman, and made so little speed upon the 
way that the poor young wife was very near her end 
before he arrived. But they had some minutes' talk 
in private, and he was present and wept very bitterly 
while she breathed her last. 



Death 

Year after year went away into nothing, with great 
explosions and outcries in the cities on the plain : red 
revolt springing up and being suppressed in blood, 
battle swaying hither and thither, patient astronomers 
in observatory towers picking out and christening new 
stars, plays being performed in lighted theatres, 
people being carried into hospital on stretchers, and 
all the usual turmoil and agitation of men's lives in 
crowded centres. Up in Will's valley only the winds 
and seasons made an epoch; the fish hung in the 
swift stream, the birds circled overhead, the pine-tops 
rustled underneath the stars, the tall hills stood over 
all; and Will went to and fro, minding his wayside 
inn, until the snow began to thicken on his head. 
His heart was young and vigorous ; and if his pulses 
kept a sober time, they still beat strong and steady 
in his wrists. He carried a ruddy stain on either 
cheek, like a ripe apple; he stooped a little, but his 
step was still firm ; and his sinewy hands were reached 
out to all men with a friendly pressure. His face was 
covered with those wrinkles which are got in open air, 



9^ WILL O' THE MILL 

and which, rightly looked at, are no more than a sort 
of permanent sunburning ; such wrinkles heighten the 
stupidity of stupid faces; but to a person like Will, 
with his clear eyes and smiling mouth, only give 
another charm by testifying to a simple and easy life. 
His talk was full of wise sayings. He had a taste for 
other people; and other people had a taste for him. 
When the valley wa^ full of tourists in the season, there 
were merry nights in Will's arbour; and his views, 
which seemed whimsical to his neighbours, were often 
enough admired by learned people out of towns and 
colleges. Indeed, he had a very noble old age, and 
grew daily better known ; so that his fame was heard 
of in the cities of the plain; and young men who had 
been summer travellers .^poke together in cafes of 
Will o' the Mill and his rough philosophy. Many and 
many an invitation, you may be sure, he had; but 
nothing could tempt him from his upland valley. He 
would shake his head and smile over his tobacco-pipe 
with a deal of meaning. "You come too late," he 
would answer. "I am a dead man now : I have lived 
and died already. Fifty years ago you would have 
brought my heart into my mouth; and now you do 
not even tempt me. But that is the object of long 
living, that man should cease to care about life." And 
again : « There is only one diflFerence between a long 
life and a good dinner : that, in the dinner, the sweets 
come last" Or once more: ''When I was a boy, I 
was a bit puzzled, and hardly knew whether it was 
myself or the world that was curious and worth looking 
into. Now, I know it is myself, and stick to that." 
He never showed any symptom of frailty, but kept 



WILL O' THE MILL 



97 



stalwart and firm to the last ; but they say he grew 
less talkative towards the end, and would listen to 
other people by the hour in an amused and sympa- 
thetic silence. Only, when h- did speak, it was more 
to the point and more charged with old experience. 
He drank a bottle of wine gladly; above all, at sunset 
on the hill-top or quite late at night under the stars 
m the arbour. The sight of something attractive and 
unattainable seasoned his enjoyment, he would say; 
and he professed he had lived long enough to admire 
a candle all the more when he could compare it with 
a planet. 

One night, in his seventy-second year, he awoke 
in bed in such uneasiness of body and mind that he 
arose and dressed himself and went out to meditate in 
the arbour. It was pitch dark, without a star; the 
river was swollen, and the wet woods and meadows 
loaded the air with perfume. It had thundered 
during the day, and it promised more thunder for 
the morrow. A murky, stifling night for a man 
of seventy-two ! Whether it was the weather or the 
wakefulness, or some little touch of fever in his old 
limbs. Will's mind was besieged by tumultuous and 
crying memories. His boyhood, the night with the 
fat young man, the death of his adopted parents, the 
summer days with Marjory, and many of those small 
circumstances, which seem nothing to another, and 
are yet the very gist of a man's own life to himself— 
things seen, words heard, looks misconstrued— arose 
from their forgotten comers and usurped his atten- 
tion. The dead themselves were with him, not 
merely taking part in this thin show of memory that 

G 



98 WILL O* THE MILL 

defiled before his brain, but revisiting his bodily 
senses as they do in profound and vivid dreams. 
The fat young man leaned his elbows on the table 
opposite; Marjory came and went with an apronful 
of flowers between the garden and the arbour; he 
could hear the old parson knocking out his pipe 
or blowing his resonant nose. The tide of his con- 
sciousness ebbed and flowed: he was sometimes half- 
asleep and drowned in his recollections of the past ; 
and sometimes he was broad awrke, wondering at 
himself. But about the middle of the night he was 
startled by the voice of the dead miller calling to 
him out of the house as he used to do on the 
arrival of custom. The hallucination was so perfect 
that Will sprang from his seat and stood listening 
for the summons to be repeated; and as he listened 
he became conscious of another noise besides the 
brawling of the river and the ringing in his feverish 
ears. It was like tue stir of horses and the creak- 
ing of Harness, as though a carriage with an im- 
patient team had been brought up upon the road 
before the courtyard gate. At such an hour, upon 
this rough and dangerous pass, the supposition was 
no better than absurd; and Will dismissed it from 
his mind, and resumed his seat upon the arbour 
chair; and sleep closed over him again like running 
water. He was once again awakened by the dead 
miller's call, thinner and more spectral than before; 
and once again he heard the noise of an equipage 
upon the re d. And so thrice and four times, the 
same dream, or the same fancy, presented itself to 
his senses; until at length, smiling to himself as 



WILL O' THE MILL 99 

when one humours a nervous child, he proceeded 
towards the gate to set his uncertainty at rest. 

From the arbour to the gate was no great distance, 

and yet it took Will some time; it seemed as if the 

dead thickened around him in the court, and crossed his 

path at every step. For, first, he was suddenly surprised 

by an overpowering sweetness of heliotropes ; it was as 

if his garden had be «n planted with this flower from 

end to end, and the hot, damp night had drawn forth 

all their perfumes in a breath. Now the heliotrope 

had been Marjory's favourite flower, and since her 

death not one of them had ever been planted in WiU's 

ground. 

" I must be going crazy," he thought. •« Poor Marjory 
and her heliotropes ! " 

And with that he raised his eyes towards the window 
that had once been hers. If he had been bewildered 
before, he was now almost cerrified ; for there was a light 
m the room; the window was an orange oblong as of 
yore; and the corner of the blind was lifted and let fall 
as on the night when he stood and shouted to the stars 
m his perplexity. The illusion only endured an instant ; 
but It left him somewhat unmanned, rubbing his eyes 
and staring at the outline of the house and the black 
night behind it. While he thus stood, and it seemed 
as if he must have stood there quite a long time, there 
came a renewal of the noises on the road : and he 
turned in time to meet a stranger, who was advancing 
to meet him across the court. There was £ .uething 
hke the outline of a great carriage discernible on the 
road behmd the stranger, and, above that, a few black 
pme-tops, like so many plumes. 



too 



WILL O' THE MILL 



"Master Will?" asked the new-comer, in brief mili- 
tary fashion. 

"That same, sir," answered Will. "Can I do .iny- 
thing to serve you ? " 

"I have heard you much spoken of. Master Will," 
returned the other ; " much spoken of, and well. And 
though I have both hands full of business, I wish to 
drink a bottle of wine with you in your arbour. Before 
I go, I shall introduce myself." 

Will led the way to the trellis, and got a lamp lighted 
and a bottle uncorked. He was not altogether unused 
to such complimentary interviews, and hoped little 
enough from this one, being schooled by many disap- 
pointments. A sort of cloud had settled on his wits 
and prevented him from remembering the strangeness 
of the hour. He moved like a person in nis sleep ; and 
it seemed as if the lamp caught fire ard the bottle came 
uncorked with the facility of thought. Still, he had 
some curiosity about the appearance of his visitor, and 
tried in vain to turn the light into his face ; either he 
handled the lamp clumsily, or there was a dimness over 
his eyes; but he could make out little more than a 
shadow at table with him. He stared and stared at this 
shadow, as he wiped out the glasses, and began to feel 
cold and strange about the heart. The silence weighed 
upon him, for he could hear nothing now, not even the 
river, but the drumming of his own arteries in his ears, 

" Here's to you," said the stranger roughly. 

"Here is my service, sir," replied Will, sipping his 
wine, which somehow tasted oddly. 

"I understand you are a very positive fellow," pur- 
sued the stranger. 



lOI 






WILL O' THE MILL 

Will made answer with a smile of some satisfaction 
and a littie nod. 

"So am I," continued the other; "and it is the 
ddight of my heart to tramp on people's corns. I 
will have nobody positive but myself; not one I 
nave crossed the whims, in my time, of kings and 
generals and great artists. And what would you sav " 
he went on "if I had come up here on purpose to 
cross yours ? " f f "« w 

Will had it on his tongue to make a sharp rejoinder • 
but the politeness of an old innkeeper prevailed; and 
he held his peace and made answer wi^h a civil gesture 
of the hand. ^ 

•'! have," said the stranger. "And if I did not 
hold you in a particular esteem, I should make no 
words about the matter. It appears you pride yourself 
on staying where you are. You mean to stick by your 
mn. Now I mean you shall come for a turn with me 
in my barouche; and before this bottle's empty, so 
you shall." *^ ' 

"That would be an odd thing, to be sure." replied 
Will, with a chuckle. "Why. sir, I have grown here 
like an old oak-tree; the Devil himself could hardly 
root me up : and for all I perceive you are a very 
entertaimng old gentleman. I would wager you another 
Dottle you lose your pains with me." 

The dimness of Will's eyesight had been increasing 
all this while; but he was somehow conscious of a 
sharp and chilling scrutiny which irritated and vet 
overmastered him. ' 

"You need not think." he broke out suddenly, in 
an explosive, febrile manner that stai..cd and alarmed 



loa 



WILL O' THE MILL 



I 



himself, "that I am a stay-at-home, because I fear 
anything under God. God knows I am tired enough 
of it all ; and when the time comes for a longer journey 
than ever you dream of, I reckon I shall find myself 
prepared." 

The stranger emptied h' glass and pushed it away 
from him. He looked di i for a little, and then, 
leaning over the table, tapped Will three times upon 
the forearm with a single finger. '♦ The time has 
come ! " he said solemnly. 

An ugly thrill spread from the spot he touched. The 
tones of his /oice were dull and startling, and echoed 
strangely in Will's heart. 

"I beg your pardon," he said, with some discom- 
posure. " What do you mean ? " 

"Look at me, and you will find your eyesight «wim. 
Raise your hand ; it is dead heavy. This is your last 
bottle of wine. Master Will, and your last night upon 
the earth." 

" You are a doctor?" quavered Will. 

" The best that ever was," replied the other ; " for I 
cure both mind and body with th* same prescription 
I take away all pain and I forgive all sins ; and where 
my patients have gone wrong in life, I smooth out all 
complications and set them free again upon their feet." 

" i have no need of you," said Will. 

"A time comes for all men, Master Will," replied 
the doctor, " when the helm is taken out of their hands. 
For you, because you were prudent and quiet, it has 
been long of coming, and you have had long to dis- 
cipline yourself for its reception. You have seen what 
is to be seen about your mill; you have sat close all 



WILL O' THE MILL 103 

your days lilte a hare in its form ; but now that is at an 
end ; and," added the doctor, getting on his feet, •• you 
must arise and co.ne with me." 

"You are a strange physician," said Will, looking 
steadfastly upon his guest. 

••I am a natural law," he replied, "and people call 
me De. »h." 

"Why did you not tell me so at first?" cried Will. 
"I have been waiting for you ihese many years. Give 
me your hand, and welcome." 

"Lean upon my arm," saM the stranger, " for already 
your strength abates. Lean on me as heavily as you 
need ; for though I am old, I am very strong. It is 
but three steps to my carriage, and there all your trouble 
ends. Why, Will," he added, "I have been yearning 
for you as if you were my own son ; and of all the men 
that ever I came for in my long days, I have come for 
you most gladly. I am caustic, and sometimes offend 
people at first sight ; but I am a good friend at heart 
to ouch as you." 

" Since Marjory was taken," returned Will, " I declare 
before God you were the only friend I had to look for." 
So the pair went arm-in-arm across the courtyard. 
One of the servants awoke about this time and heard 
the noise of horses pawing before he dropped asleep 
again; all down the valley that night there was a 
rushing as of a smooth and steady wind descending 
towards the plain; and when the world rose next 
morning, sure enough Will o' the Mill had gone at last 
upon his travels. 



il 



MARKHEIM 

"Yes," said the dealer, «'our windfalls are of various 
kinds. Some customers are ignorant, and then I touch 
a dividend on my superior knowledge. Some are dis- 
honest and here he held up the candle, so that the 
light fell strongly on his visitor, "and in that case" he 
continued, "I profit by my virtue." ' 

Markheim had but just entered from the daylight 
streets, and his eyes had not yet grown familiar with 
the mingled shine and darkness in the shop. At these 
pomted words, and before the near presence of the 
flame, he blinked painfully and looked aside 

': He dealer chuckled. « You come to me on Christ- 
ma' Day," he resumed, "when >ou know that I am 
alone in my house, put up my shutters, and make a 
point of refusing business. Well, you will have to 
pay for that ; you will have to pay for my loss of time 
when I should be balancing my books ; you will have 
to pay, besides, for a kind of manner that I remark in 
you to-day very strongly. I am the essence of discre- 
tion, and ask no awkward questions; but when a 
customer cannot look me in the eye, he has to pay for 
It. The dealer once more chuckled ; and then, chan- 
ing to his usual business voice, though still with a noL 
of urony, " You can give, as usual, a clear account of 



MARKHEIM loj 

how you came into the possession of the object?" he 
continued. " Still your uncle's cabinet ? A remarkable 
collector, sir ! " 

And the little pale, round-shouldered dealer stood 
almost on tip-toe, looking over the top of his gold 
spectacles, and nodding his head with every mark of 
disbelief. Markheim returned his gaze with one of 
infinite pity, and a touch of horror. 

•'This time," said he, "you are in error. I have not 
come to sell, but to buy. I have no curios to dispose 
of; my uncle's cabinet is bare to the wainscot; even 
were it still intact, I have done well on the Stock Ex- 
change, and should more likely add to it than otherwise, 
and my errand to-day is simplicity itself. I seek a 
Christmas present for a lady," he continued, waxing 
more fluent as he struck into the speech he had pre- 
pared; "and certainly I owe you every excuse for thus 
disturbing you upon so small a matter. But the thing 
was neglected yesterday; I must produce my little com- 
pliment at dinner ; and, as you very well know, a rich 
marriage is not a thing to be neglected." 

There followed a pause, during which the dealer 
seemed to weigh this statement incredulously. The 
ticking of many clocks among the curious lumber of 
the shop, and the faint rushing of the cabs in a near 
thoroughfare, filled up the interval of silence. 

"Well, sir," said the dealer, "be it so. You are an 
old customer after all; and if, as you say, you have 
the chance of a good marriage, far be it from me to be 
an obstacle. Here is a nice thing for a lady now," he 
went on, "this hand glass— fifteenth century, warranted; 
comes from a good collection, too; but I reserve the 



io6 



MARKHEIM 



name, in the interests of my customer, who was just 
hke yourself, my dear sir, the nephew and sole heir of 
a remarkable collector." 

The dealer, while he thus ran on in his dry and 
bitmg voice, had stooped to take the object from its 
place; and, as he had done so, a shock had passed 
through Markheim, a start both of hand and foot, a 
sudden leap of many tumultuous passions to the face 
It passed as swiftly as it came, and left no trace beyonc 
a certam trembling of the hand that now received the 
glass. 

"A glass," he said hoarsely, and then paused, and 
repeated it more clearly. " A glass ? For Christmas ? 
Surely not?" 

"And why not?" cried the dealer. "Why not a 
glass ? " 

Markheim was looking upon him with an indefinable 
expression. '« You ask me why not ? » he said. « Why 
look here— look in it— look at yourself! Do you like to 
see It ? No ! nor I— nor any man." 

The little man had jumped back when Markheim 
had so suddenly confronted him with the mirror; but 
now, perceiving there was nothing worse >n hand he 
chuckled. "Your future lady, sir, must be pretty hard 
favoured," said he. 

"I ask you." said Markheim, "for a Christmas 
present, and you give me this— this damned reminder 
of years, and sins and follies-this hand-conscience' 
Did you mean it? Had you a thought in your mind ? 
lell me. It will be better for you if you do. Come, 
tell me about yourself. I hazard a guess now, that yoii 
are in secret a very charitable man ? " 



MARKHEIM lo; 

The dealer looked closely at his companion. It was 
very odd, Markheim did not appear to be laughing; 
there was something in his face like an eager sparkle of 
hope, but nothing of mirth. 

" What are you driving at ? " the dealer asked. 
"Not charitable?" returned the other gloomily. 
•' Not charitable ; not pious ; not scrupalous ; unloving, 
unbeloved; a hand to get money, a safe to keep it. 
Is that all ? Dear God, man, is that a! ' " 

"I will tell you what it is," began the dealer, with 
some sharpness, and then b ke off again into a chuckle. 
" But I see this is a love n.^cch of yours, and you have 
been drinking the lady's health." 

"Ah!" cried Markheim, with a strange curiosity. 
"Ah, have you been in love? Tell me about that." 
" I," cried the dealer. " I in love ! I never had the 
time, nor have I the time to-day for all this nonsense. 
Will you take the glass ? " 

"Where is the hurry?" returned Markheim. "It 
is very pleasant to stand here talking; and life is so 
short and insecure that I would not hurry away from 
any pleasure— no, not even from so mild a one as this. 
We should rather cling, cling to what little we can get, 
like a man at a cliff's edge. Every second is a cliff, 
if you think upon it— a cliff " mile high— high enough, 
if we fall, to dash us out of every feature of humanity. 
Hence it is best to talk pleasantly. Let us talk of each 
other : why should we wear this mask ? Let us be con- 
fidential. Who knows, we might become friends ? " 

"I have just one word to say to you," said the 
dealer. "Either make your purchase, or walk out of 
my shop I" 



m 



"^ MARKHEIM 

"True, true" «id Markheim. "Enough fooling 
To busmess. Show me something eke » 

The dealer stooped once more, this time to replace 
the glass upon the shelf, his thin blond hair faC 
over h.s eyes as he did so. Markheim moved a Me 
nearer, w,.h one hand in the pocket of his greatcol 
he drew h.mself up and filled his lungs; at^het^e' 
hme many different emotions were depicted together on 

physical repulsion; and through a haggard lift of his 
upper hp, his teeth looked out. "^ " "" ot his 

,h."™\'T'^'"' '""'' '"''-" °'"*"'«^ *e dealer: and 
fte^ as he began to re-arise, Markheim bounded from 

fl!h H T.;f """"• ^■'^ '°"8' ^^''""■ke dagger 
flashed and fell. The dealer struggled like a Sn 

anhng h« temple on the shelf, and then tumbled on 

the floor in a heap. 

Time had some score of small voices in that shoo 
some stately and slow as was becoming to their .Z 
age; others garrulous and hurried. All these told out 
the seconds m an intricate chorus of tickings. Then 
the passage of a lad's feet, heavily running on the pav^ 
men^ broke m upon these smaller voices and staled 
Markheim mto the consciousness of his surroundings. 
He looked about him awfully. The candle stood on 
the counter, its flame solemnly wagging in a draught- 
and by that inconsiderable movement, the whole room' 
was filled with noiseless bustle and kept heaving like 
a sea : the tall shadows nodding, the gross blots of 
darkness swelling and dwindling as with respiration, 
the faces of the portraits and the china gods changl 
mg and wavering Hke images in water. The inner 



MARKHEIM 109 

door stood ajar, and peered into that leaguer of 
shadows with a long slit of daylight like a pointing 
finger. 

From these fear-stricken rovings, Markheim's eyes 
returned to the body of his victim, where it lay both 
humped and sprawling, incredibly small and strangely 
meaner than in life. In these poor, miserly clothes, 
in that ungainly attitude, the dealer lay like so much 
sawdust. Markheim had feared to see it, and, lo! it 
was nothing. And yet, as he gazed, this bundle of 
old clothes and pool of blood began to find eloquent 
voices. There it must li there was none to work the 
cunning hinges or direct the miracle of locomotion- 
there it must lie till it was found. Found! ay, and 
then? Then would this dead flesh lift up a cry that 
would ring over England, and fill the world with the 
ech-rs of pursuit. Ay, dead or not, this was still the 
enemy. "Time was that when the brains were out," 
he thought; and the first word struck into his mind. 
Time, now that the deed was accomplished — time, 
which had closed for the victim, had become instant 
and momentous for the slayer. 

The thought was yet in his mind, when, first one 
and then another, with every variety of pace and voice 
—one deep as the bell from a cathedral turret, another 
ringing on its treble notes the prelude of a waltz— 
the clocks began to strike the hour of three in the 
afternoon. 

The sudden outbreak of so many tongues in that 
dumb chamber staggered him. He began to bestir 
himself, going to and fro with the candle, beleaguered 
by moving shadows, and startled to the soul by chance 



I; I 

10 

I' 
If 

i'i 

III 

l-fl 



iri 



"® MARKHEIM 

reflections. In many rich mirrors, some of home de- 
sign, some from Venice or Amsterdam, he saw his 
face repeated and repeated, as it were an army of 
spies ; his own eyes met and detected him ; and the 
sound of his own steps, lightly as they fell, vexed the 
surrounding quiet. And still, as he continued to fill 
his pockets, his mind accused him with a sickening 
Iteration, of the thousand faults of his design He 
should have chosen a more quiet hour; he should 
have prepared an alibi; he should not have use<i a 
knife; he should have been more cautious, and only 
bound and gagged the dealer, and not killed him • he 
should have been more bold, and killed the servant 
also; he should have done all things otherwise- 
poignant regrets, weary, incessant toiling of the mind 
to change what was unchangeable. ' . plan what was 
now useless, to be the architect of the irrevocable past 
Meanwhile, and behind all this activity, brute terrors' 
like the scurrying of rats in a deserted attic, filled the 
more remote chambers of his brain with riot; the hand 
of the constable would fall heavy on his shoulder, and 
his nerves would jerk like a hooked fish; or he beheld 
in galloping defile, the dock, the prison, the gallows' 
and the black coffin. ' 

Terror of the people in the street sat down 
before his mind like a besieging army. It was im- 
possible, he thought, but that some rumour of the 
struggle must have reached their ears and set on edge 
their curiosity; and now, in all the neighbouring 
houses, he divined them sitting motionless and with 
uplifted ear-solitary people, condemned to spend 
Christmas dwelling alone on memories of the past. 



Ill 



MARKHEIM 

and now startingly recalled from that tender exercise • 
happy family parties, struck into silence round the 
table, the mother still with raised finger: every 
degree and age and humour, but all, by their own 
hearths, prying and hearkening and weaving the rope 
that was to hang him. Sometimes it seemed to him 
he could not move too softly ; the clink of the tall 
Bohemian goblets rang out loudly like a bell- and 
alarmed by the bigness of the ticking, he was tempted 
to stop the clocks. And then, again, with a swift 
transition of his terrors, the very silence of the place 
appeared a source of peril, and a thing to strike and 
freeze the passer-by; and he would step more boldly 
and bustle aloud among the contents of the shop, and 
mutate, with elaborate bravado, the movements of a 
busy man at ease in his own house. 

But he was now so pulled about by different alarms 
that, while one portion of his mind was still alert and 
cunnmg, another trembled on the brink of lunacy 
One hallucination in particular took a strong hold on 
his credulity. The neighbour hearkening with white 
face beside his window, the passer-by arrested by a 
horrible surmise on the pavement - these could at 
worst suspect, they could not know; through the 
bnck walls and shuttered windows only sounds could 
penetrate. But here, within the house, was he alone? 
He knew he was; he had watched the servant set 
forth sweet-heartmg, in her poor best, "out for the 
day written m every ribbon and smile. Yes, he was 
alone, of course; and yet, in the bulk of empty house 
above him, he could surely hear a stir of delicate 
tooting-he was surely conscious, inexplicably con- 



hi! 



! 



"« MARKHEIM 

scious of some presence. Ay, surely; to every room 
and comer of the house his imagination followed it; 
and now it was a faceless thing, and yet had eyes 
to see with ; and again it was a shadow of himself; 
and yet again behold the image of the dead dealer, 
reinspired with cunning and hatred. 

At times, with a strong effort, he would glance at 
the open door which still seemed to repel his eyes. 
The house was tall, the skylight small and dirty, the 
day blind with fog; and the light that filtered down 
to the ground story was exceedingly faint, and showed 
dimly on the threshold of the shop. And yet, in that 
strip of doubtful brightness, did there not hang waver- 
ing a shadow ? 

Suddenly, from the street outside, a very jovial 
gentleman began to beat with a staff on the shop-door, 
accompanying his blows with shouts and railleries in 
which the dealer was continually called upon by name. 
Markheim, smitten into ice, glanced at the dead man. 
But no I he lay quite still ; he was fled away far beyond 
earshot of these blows and shoutings; he was sunk 
beneath seas of silence; and his name, which would 
once have caught his notice above the howling of a 
storm, had become an empty sound. And presently 
the jovial gentleman desisted from his knocking and 
departed. 

Here was a broad hint to hurry what remained to 
be done, to get forth from this accusing neighbour- 
hood, to plunge into a bath of London multitudes, 
and to reach, on the other side of day, that haven of 
safety and apparent innocence— his bed. One visitor 
had come : at any moment another might follow and 



MARKHEIM , 

be more obstinate. To have done the deed, and yet 

^V ir 7™"'' """"" •» '°° "'"><'"-• a Mure 
The money, that was now Markheira's concern a^d 
as a means to that, the keys <-"ncern , and 

wh"4 trlr" '" ''"""'" « '"= °P- door, 

»d with no . •"" '"" ""«'""« »"d shivering 
and w,th no conscious repugnance of the mind, ye 

his victim. The human character had quite deoarted 

tered. the trunk doubled, on the floor; and yet The 

siaerable to the eye, he feared it might have more 

r:!^::n:.:^-TonS':^irt^"r 
bf"erfeSo\r t ■'-"--^ -r-ar^n 

™bb^^Jr:;^sirrbur7tras^i!etr 

and shockingly smeared with blood about "^ne TJZ' 
That was, for Markheim. the one displeasing Zum 

certam fair^iay m a fishers' village : a gray dav , 
brasses, the booming of drums, the nasal voice of a 
h^d 'rr ' "'V '? ^°'"« '° ^""^ ''"• »"-^ o e 
f«r, until, commg out upon the chief place of con 
course, he beheld a booth and a great screen Th" 

ri^r^'r " '"'^"=^' '^^"'^ coSir d Bro™' 
nre with her apprentice; the Mannings with thrir 
murdered guest; Weare in the death-grip of ThuneU 
and a score besides of famous crimes.' The thfn^ t' 



Ill 



X14 MARKHEIM 

as clear as an illusion; he was once again that little 
boy; he was looking once again, and with the same 
sense of physical revolt, at these vile pictures ; he was 
still stunned by the thumping of the drums. A bar 
of that day's music returned upon his memory; and 
at that, for the first time, a qualm came over him, a 
breath of nausea, a sudden weakness of the joints, 
which he must instantly resist and conquer. 

He judged it more prudent to confront than to 
flee from these considerations; looking the more 
hardily in the dead face, bending his mind to realise 
the nature and greatness of his crime. So little a 
while ago that face had moved .\ ' h every change of 
sentiment, that pale mouth had spoken, that body 
had been all on fire with governable energies; and 
now, and by his act, that piece of life had been 
arrested, as the horologist, vvith interjected finger, 
arrests the beating of the clock. So he reasoned in 
vain; he could rise to no more remorseful conscious- 
n'iss; the same heart which had shuddered before 
the painted effigies of crime, looked on its reality 
unmoved. At best, he felt a gleam of pity for one 
who had been endowed in vain with all those faculties 
that can make the world a garden of enchantment, 
one who had never lived and who was now dead. But 
of penitence, no, not a tremor. 

With that, shaking himself clear of these considera- 
tions, he found the keys and advanced towards the 
open door of the shop. Outside, it had begun to 
rain smartly; and the sound of the shower upon 
the rot-f had banished silence. Like some dripping 
cavern, the chambers of the house were haunted by 



MARKHEIM ,,5 

an incessant echoing, which filled the ear and mingled 
with the ticking of the clocks. And, as Markheim 
approached the door, he seemed to hear, in answer 
to his own cautious tread, the steps of another foot 
withdrawing up the stair. The shadow still palpi- 
tated loosely on the threshold. He threw a ton's 
weight of resolve upon his muscles, and drew back 
the door. 

The faint, foggy daylight glimmered dimly on the 
bare floor and stairs; on ti.e bright suit of armour 
posted, halbert in hand, upon the landing; and on 
the dark wood-carvings, and framed pictures that 
hung against the yellow panels of the wainscot. So 
loud was the beating of the rain through all the 
house that, in Markheim's ears, it began to be dis- 
tinguished into many different sounds. Footsteps 
and sighs, the tread of regiments marching in the 
distance, the chink of money in the counting, and 
the creaking of doors held stealthily ajar, appeared 
to mingle with the patter of the drops upon the 
cupola and the gushing of the water in the pipes 
The sense that he was not alone grew upon him to 
the verge of madness. On every side he was haunted 
and begirt by presences. He heard them moving 
m the upper chambers; from the shop, he heard 
the dead man getting to his legs; and as he began 
with a great effort to mount the stairs, feet fled 
quietly before him and followed stealthily behind If 
he were but deaf, he thought, how tranquilly he 
would possess his soul ! And then again, and he.^rk^ 
emng with ever fresh attentioi., he blessed himself 
for that unresting sense which held the utposts 



ii6 



MARKHEIM 



and stood a trusty sentinel upon his life. His head 
turned continually on his neck; his eyes, which 
seemed starting from their orbits, scouted on every 
side, and on every side were half-rewarded as with 
the tail of something nameless vanishing. The four- 
and-twenty steps to the first floor were four-and- 
twenty agonies. 

On that first storey, the doors stood ajar, three of 
them like three ambushes, shaking his nerves like the 
throats of cannon. He could never again, he felt, be 
sufficiently immured and fortified from men's observ- 
ing eyes; he longed to be home, girt in by walls, 
buried among bedclothes, and invisible to all but God. 
And at that thought he wondered a little, recollecting 
tales of other murderers and the fear they were said 
to entertain of heavenly avengers. It was not so, at 
least, with him. He feared the laws of nature, lest, 
in their callous and immutable procedure, they should 
preserve some damning evidence of his crime. He 
feared tenfold more, with a slavish, superstitious terror, 
some scission in the continuity of man's experience, 
some wilful illegality of nature. He played a game 
of skill, depending on the rules, calculating conse- 
quence from cause ; and what if nature, as the defeated 
tyrant overthrew the chess-board, should break the 
mould of their succession? The like had befallen 
Napoleon (so writers said) when the winter changed 
the time of its appearance. The like might befall 
Markheim: the solid walls might become transparent 



and reveal his doings like those of bees 



hive; the stout planks might yield 
quicksands and detain him in their 



m a 



glass 



under his foot like 
clutch; ay, and 



MARKHEIM „y 

there were soberer accidents that might destroy him : 
|f. for instance, the house should fall and imprison 
h.m bes.de the body of his victim ; or the house next 
door should fly on fire, and the firemen invade him 
from all sides. These things he feared; and, in a 
sense, these things might be called the hands of God 
reached forth against sin. But about God Himself he 
was at ease; his act was doubtless exceptional, but so 
were h.s excuses, which God knew ; it was there, and 
not among men, that he felt sure of justice. 

When he had got safe into the drawing-room, and 
shut the door behind him, he was aware of a respite 
from alarms. The room was quite dismantled, un- 
carpeted besides, and strewn with packing cases and 
incongruous furniture; several great pier-glasses, in 
which he be.: .Id himself at various angles, like an 
actor on a stage; many pictures, framed and unframed 
standing with their faces to the wall ; a fine Sheraton 
sideboard, a cabinet of marquetry, and a great old 
beo, with tapestry hangings. The windows opened 
to the floor ; but by great good fortune the lower part 
of the shutters had been closed, and this concealed 
him from the neighbours. Here, then, Markheim 
drew in a packing case before the cabinet, and began 
to search among the keys. It was a long business, 
for there were many; and it was irksome, besides; for 
after all, there might be nothing in the cabinet, and 
time was on the wing. But the closeness of the occu- 
pation sobered him. With the tail of his eve he saw 
the door-even glanced at it from time to tim'e directly, 
like a besieged commander pleased to verify the good 
estate of his defences. But in truth he was at peace 



ii8 



MARKHEIM 



- ] 



I'M 



m 



The rain falling in the street sounded natural and 
pleasant. Presently, on the other side, the notes of a 
piano were wakened to the music of a hymn, and the 
voices of many children took up the air and words. 
How stately, how comfortable was the melody ! How 
fresh the youthful voices ! Markheim gave ear to it 
smilingly, as he sorted out the keys; and his mind 
was thronged with answerable ideas and images; 
church-going children and the pealing of the high 
organ; children afield, bathers by the brookside, 
ramblers on the brambly common, kite-flyers in the 
windy and cloud -navigated sky; and then, at another 
cadence of the hymn, back again to church, and the 
somnolence of summer Sundays, and the high genteel 
voice of the parson (v/hich he smiled a little to recall) 
and the painted Jacobean tombs, and the dim lettering 
of the Ten Commandments in the chancel. 

And as he sat thus, at once busy and absent, he 
was startled to his feet. A flash of ice, a flash of fire, 
a bnrsting gush of blood, went over him, and then he 
stood transfixed and thrilling. A step mounted the 
stair slowly and steadily, and presently a hand was 
laid upon the knob, and the lock clicked, and the door 
opened. 

Fear held Markheim in a vice. What to expect he 
knew not, whether the dead man walking, or the official 
ministers of human justice, or some chance witness 
blindly stumbling in to consign him to the gallows. 
But when a face was thrust into the aperture, glanced 
round the room, looked at him, nodded and smiled 
as if in friendly recognition, and then withdrew again, 
and the door closed behind it, his fear broke loose from 



MARKHEIM ug 

his control in a hoarse cry. At the sound of this :ht; 
visitant returned. 

"Did you call me?" he asked pleasantly, and yi'l, 
that he entered the room and closed the door behind 
him. 

Markheim stood and gazed at him with all his eyes. 
Perhaps there was a film upon his sight, but the outlines 
of the new-comer seemed to change and waver like 
those of the idols in the wavering candlelight of the 
shop; and at times he thought he knew him; and 
at times he thought he bore a likeness to himself; 
and always, like a lump of living terror, there lay in his 
bosom the conviction that this thing was not of the 
earth and not of God. 

And yet the creature had a strange air of the com- 
monplace, as he stood looking on Markheim with a 
smile; and when he added: "You are looking for 
the money, I believe?" it was in the tones of every- 
day politeness. 

Markheim made no answer. 

"1 should warn you," resumed the other, ''that the 
maid has left her sweetheart earlier than usual and 
will soon be here. If Mr. Markheim be found in this 
house, I need ziot describe to him the consequences." 

•' You know me ? " cried the murderer. 

The visitor smiled. " You have long been a favourite 
of mine," he said ; " and I have long observed and 
often sought to help you." 

" What are you ? " cried Markheim : " the devil ? " 

"What I may be," returned the other, " cannot affect 
the service I propose to render you." 

"It can," cried Markheim; "it does! Be helped 



lao 



MARKHEIM 



by you ? No, never ; not by you ! You do not know 
me yet ; thank God, you do not know me ! " 

" I know you," replied the visitant, with a sort of kind 
severity or rather firmness. " I know you to the soul." 

"Know me!" cried Markheim. "Who can do so? 
My life is but a travesty and slander on myself. I 
have lived to belie my nature. All men do; all men 
are better than this disguise that grows about and 
stifles them. You see each dragged away by life, like 
one whom bravos have seized and muffled in a cloak. 
If they had their own control — if you could see their 
faces, they would be altogether different, they would 
shine out for heroes and saints! I am worse than 
most; myself ic more overlaid; my excuse is known 
to me and God. But, had I the time, I could disclose 
myself." 

" To me ? " inquired the visitant. 
"To you before all," returned the murderer. "I 
supposed you were intelligent. I thought— since you 
exist— you would prove a reader of the heart. And 
yet you would propose to judge me by my acts! 
Think of it; my acts! I was bom and I have Uved 
in a land of giants; giants have dragged me by the 
wrists since I was born out of my mother — the giants 
of circumstance. And you would judge me by my 
acts! But can you not look within? Can you not 
understand that evil is hateful to me? Can you not 
see within me the clear writing of conscience, never 
blurred by any wilful sophistry, although too often 
disregarded? Can you not read me for a thing that 
surely must be common as humanity — the unwilling 
sinner ? " 



MARKHEIM xai 

"All this is very feerngly expressed," was the reply 
"but It regards me not. These poin- of consis- 
tency are beyond my province, and I care not in the 
least by what compulsion you may have been dragged 
away, so as you are but carried in the right direction. 
But tin.e flies ; the servant delays, looking in the faces 
of the crowd and at the pictures on the hoardings 
but still she keeps moving nearer; and remember, it 
is as if the gallows itself was striding towards you 
through the Christmas streets! Shall I help you- 
I, who know all? Shall I tell you where to find the 
money ? " 

"For what price?" asked Markheim. 
"I offer you the service for a Christmas gift," re- 
turned the other. 

Markheim could not refrain from smiling with a ■ 
of bitter triumph. '« No," said he, « I will take nott • ^ 
at your hands; if I were dying of thirst, and it was 
your hand that put the pitcher to my lips, I should find 
the courage to refuse. It may be credulous, but I will 
do nothing to commit myself to evil." 

"I have no objection to a deathbed repentance." 
observed the visitant. 

"Because you disbelieve their efficacy!" Markheim 
cned. 

"I do not say so," returned the other; "but I look 
on these things from a different side, and when the 
hfe is done my interest falls. The man has lived 
to serve me, to spread black looks under colour of 
religion, or to sow tares in the wheat-field, as you 
do, in a course of weak compliance with desire. Now 
that he draws so near to his deliverance, he can add 






In] 



1:] 



I 



"» MARKHEIM 

but one act of service— to repent, to die smiling, and 
thus to build up in confidence and hope the more 
timorous of my surviving followers. I am not so 
bard a master. Try me. Accept my help. Please 
yourself in life as you have done hitherto; please 
yourself more amply, spread your elbows at the board ; 
and when the night begins to fall and the curtains to 
be drawn, I tell you, for your greater comfort, that 
you will find it even easy to compound your quarrel 
with your conscience, and to make a truckling peace 
with God. I came but now from such a deathbed, 
and the room was full of sincere mourners, listening 
to the man's last words : and when I looked into that 
face, which had been set as a flint against mercy, I 
found it smiling with hope." 

"And do you, then, suppose me such a creature?" 
asked Markheim. "Do you think I have no more 
generous aspirations than to sin, and sin, and sin, and, 
at the last, sneak into heaven? My heart rises at the 
thought. Is this, then, your experience of mankind? 
or is it because you find me with red hands that 
you presume such baseness? and is this crime of 
murder indeed so impious as to dry up the very springs 
of good ? " 

" Murder is to me no special category," replied the 
other. "All sins are murder, even as all life is war. 
I behold your race, like starving mariners on a raft, 
plucking crusts out of the hands of famine and feeding 
on each other's lives. I follow sins beyond the mo- 
ment of iheir acting; I find in all that the last con- 
sequence is death; and to my eyes, the pretty maid 
who thwarts her mother with such taking graces on a 



MARKHEIM 123 

question of a ball, drips no less visibly with human 
gore than such a murderer as yourself. Do I say 
that I follow sins? I follow virtues also; they differ 
not by the thickness of a nail, they are both scythes 
for the reaping angel of Death. Evil, for which I 
live, consists not in action but in character. The 
bad man is dear to me; not the bad act, whose 
fruits, if we could follow them far enough down the 
hurtling catar.ict of the ages, might vet be found 
more blessed than those of the rarest virtues. And it 
is not because vou have killed a dealer, but because 
you are Markheim, that I offer to forward vour escape." 
•'I will lay my heart open to you," answered Mark- 
heim. "This crime on which you find me is my 
last. On my way to it I have learned many lessons ; 
Itself IS a lesson, a momentous lesson. Hitherto I 
have been driven with revolt to what I would not- 
I was a bond-slave to poverty, driven and scourged' 
There are robust virtues that can stand in these temp- 
tations; mme was not so: I had a thirst of pleasure. 
But to-day, and out of this deed, I pluck both warning 
and riches-both the power and a fresh resolve to be 
myself. I become in all things a free actor in the 
worid; I begin to see myself all changed, these hands 
the agents of good, this heart at peace. Something 
comes over me out of the past; something of what I 
have dreamed on Sabbath evenings to the sound of 
the church organ, of what I forecast when I shed tears 
over noble books, or talked, an innocent child, with 
my mother. There lies my life; I have wandered a 
few years, but now I see once more my city of 
destination." 



"4 



MARKHEIM 



" You are to use this money on the Stock Exchange, 
I think?" remarked the visitor; "and there, if I mis- 
take not, you have already lost some thousands?" 

" Ah," said Markheim, " but this time I have a sure 
*hing." 

•' This time, again, you will lose," replied the visitor 
quietly. 

" Ah, but I keep back the half ! " cried Markheim. 

"That also you will lose," said the other. 

The sweat started upon Markheim's brow. "Well, 
then, what matter?" he exclaimed. "Say it be lost, 
say I am plunged again in poverty, shall one part of 
me, and that the worse, continue until the end to 
override the better? Evil and good run strong in 
me, haling me both ways. I do not love the one 
thing, I love all. I can conceive great deeds, re- 
nunciations, martyrdoms; and though I be fallen to 
such a crime as murder, pity is no stranger to my 
thoughts. I pity the poor; who knows their trials 
better than myself? I pity and help them; I prize 
love, I love honest laughter; there is no good thing 
nor true thing on earth but I love it from my heart. 
And are my vices only to direct my life, and my 
virtues to lie without effect, like some passive lumber 
of the mind? Not so; good, also, is a spring 
of acts." 

But the visitant raised his finger. "For six-and- 
thirty years that you have been in this world," said 
he, "through many changes of fortune and varieties 
of humour, I have watched you steadily fall. Fifteen 
years ago you would have started at a theft. Three 
years back you would have blenched at the name of 



MARKHEIM ,,5 

murder. Is there any crime, is there any cruelty or 
meanness, from which you still recoil ?-five years 
from now I shall detect you in the fact ! Downward 

frrl^^r ^'^'^ "- -" -^^^- ^"^ ^-^' 

"It is true," Markheim said huskily. "I have in 
some degree complied with evil T^J h • T 

all .♦!,«» • . ^^^ '^ IS SO With 

all. the very saints, m the mere exercise of living 
grow less dainty, and take on the tone of thet 
surroundings." 

the''ott'l-'""''T'' '° '""' ™' '™P'« <I"«'i°n." said 
the other "and as you answer, I shall read to you 

thm^ more lax; possibly you do right to be so; and 
a. any account, ,t ,s the same with all men. But 
grantmg that, are you in any one particular, however 
Wmg, more d,fficult to please with your own conduct 
or do you go m all things with a looser rein?" 

In any one?" repeated Markheim, with an 
angu,sh of consideration. "No," he aided, wim 
despatr.-mnone! I have gone down in all." 

Then said the visitor, "content yourself with what 
you are. for you will never change; and the word" o 
your part on this stage are irrevocably written down " 

it !1",k"""-"°°"' '°' " '°"^ ""'" ="=■"- ^d indeed 
.t was the visitor who first broke the silence. "That 
being so," he said, "shall I show you the money?" 
And grace? "cried Markheim. 

wo or hree years ago, did I not see you on the 
o.'m of revival meetmgs, and was not your voice 
loudest in the hymn?" 



pla 
the 



X96 



MARKHEIM 






I 



•' It is true," said Markheim ; " and I see clearly 
what remains for me by way of duty. I thank you 
for these lessons from my soul ; my eyes are opened, 
and I behold myself at last for what I am." 

At this moment, the sharp note of the door-bell 
rang through the house ; and the visitant, as though 
this were some concerted signal for which he had 
been waiting, changed at once in his demeanour. 

" The maid ! " he cried. '* She has returned, as I 
forewarned you, and there is now before you one 
more difficult passage. Her master, you must say, 
is ill; you must let her in, with an assured but 
rather serious countenance — no smiles, no overacting, 
and I promise you success ! Once the girl within, and 
the door closed, the same dexterity that has already 
rid you of the dealer will relieve you of this last 
danger in your path. Thenceforward you have the 
whole evening — the whole night, if needful — to ran- 
sack the treasures of the house and to make good 
your safety. This is help that comes to you with 
the mask of danger. Up ! " he cried ; " up, friend ; 
your life hangs trembling in the scales : up, and 
act ! " 

Markheim steadily regarded his counsellor. " If 
I be condemned to evil acts," he said, "there is still 
one door of freedom open — I can cease from action. 
If my life be an ill thing, I can lay it down. Though 
I be, as you say truly, at the beck of every small 
temptation, I can yet, by one decisive gesture, place 
myself beyond the reach of all. My love of good is 
damned to barrenness; it may, and let it be! But 
I have still my hatred of evil ; and from that, to your 






MARKHEIM ,,y 

galling disappointment, you shall see that I can draw 
both energy and courage." 

The features of the visitor began to undergo a 
wonderful and lovely change: they brightened and 
softened with a tender triumph, and, even as they 
brightened, faded and dislimned. But Markheim did 
not pause to watch or understand the transformation. 
He opened the door and went downstairs very slowly 
thmkmg to himself. His past went soberly before 
him; he beheld it as it was, ugly and strenuous like 
a dream, random as chance-medley-a scene of defeat 
Life, as he thus reviewed it, tempted him no longer • 
but on the farther side he perceived a quiet haven for' 
his bark. He paused in the passage, and looked into 
the shop where the candle still burned by the dead 
body. It was strangely silent. Thoughts of the 
dealer swarmed into his mind, as he stood gazing 

ctmour" '^' ^'" °"'' '"°'' ^'°^' °"' '"'° ^'"P"^^^'^^ 

He confronted the maid upon the threshold with 
something hke a smile. 

"You had better go for the police," said he: "I 
nave killed your master." 



THRAWN JANET 



! 



The Reverlend Murdoch Soulis was long minister of 
the moorland parish of Balweary, in the vale of Dule. 
A severe, bleak-faced old man, dreadful to hi^ hearers, 
he dwelt in the last years of his life, w.», ,ut rela- 
tive or servant or any human company, in the small 
and lonely manse under the Hanging Shaw. In spite 
of the iron composure of his features, his eye was 
wild, scared, and uncertain; and when he dwelt, in 
private admonitions, on the future of the impenitent, 
it seemed as if his eye pierced through the storms of 
time to the terrors of eternity. Many young persons, 
coming to prepare themselves against the season of 
the Holy Communion, were dreadfully aFected by his 
talk. He had a sermon on ist Peter, v. and 8th, 
"The devil as a roaring lion," on the Sunday after 
every seventeenth of August, and he was accustomed 
to surpass himself upon that text both by the appall- 
ing nature of the matter and the terror of his bearing 
in the pulpit. The children were frightened into fits, 
and the old looked more than usually oracular, and 
were, all that day, full of those hints that Hamlet 
deprecated. The manse itself, where it stood by the 
water of Dule among some thick trees, with the Shaw 
overhanging it on the one side, and on the other manv 

laS ' 



THRAWN JANET ,,5 

cold, moorish hilltops rising towards the sky. had 
begun, at a very early period of Mr. Soulis's ministry, 
o be avoided m the dusk hours by all who valued 
themselves upon their prudence; and guidmen sitting 
at the clachan alehouse shook their heads together at 
the thought of passing late by that uncanny neigh- 
bourhood. There was one spot, to be more particular, 
which was regarded with especial awe. The mans^ 
stood between the high road and the water of Dule 
with a gable to each ; its back was towards the kirk- 
town of Balweary. neariy half a mile away ; in front 
of It, a bare garden, hedged with thorn, occupied the 
land between the river and the road. The house was 
two stories high, with two large rooms on each. It 
opened not directly on the garden, but on a causewayed 
path, or passage, giving on the r- .n the one hand 
and closed on the other by the tall willows and elders 
that bordered on the stream. And it was this strip 
of causeway that enjoyed among the young parish- 
loners of Balweary so infamous a reputation. The 
minister walked there often after dark, sometimes 
groaning aloud in the instancy of his unspoken 
prayeis J aiid when he was from home, and the manse 
door was locked, the more daring schoolboys ventured 
with beating hearts, to "follow my leader " across thai 
legendary spot. 

This atmosphere of terror, surrounding, as it did a 
man of God of spotless character and orthodoxy, was 
a common cause of wonder and subject of inquiry among 
he few strangers who were led by chance or busine« 
mto that unknown, outlying country. But many even 
of the people of the parish were ignorant of the strange 

I 



I 



ijo THRAWN JANET 

events which had marked the first year of Mr. Soulis't 
ministrations; and among those who were better in- 
formed, some were naturally reticent, and others shy 
of that particular topic. Now and again, only, one 
of the older folk would warm into courage over his 
third tumbler, and recount the cause of the minister's 
strange looks and solitary life. 



Fifty years syne, when Mr. Soulis cam' first into 
Ba'weary, he was still a young man— a callant, the 
folk said — fu' o' book learnin' and grand at the expo- 
sition, but, as was natural in sae young a man, wi' 
nae leevin' experience in religion. The younger sort 
were greatly taken wi' his gifts and his gab ; but auld, 
concerned, serious men and women were moved even 
to prayer for the young man, whom they took to be a 
self-deceiver, and the parish that was like to be sae 
ill-supplied. It was before the days o' the moderates 
— weary fa' them ; but ill things are like guid — they 
baith come bit by bit, a pickle at a time ; and there 
were folk even then that said the Lord had left the 
college professors to their ain devices, an' the lads that 
went to study wi' them wad hae done mair and better 
sittin' in a peat-bog, like their forebears of the perse- 
cution, wi' a Bible under their oxter and a speerit o' 
prayer in their heart. There was nae doubt, onyway, 
but that Mr. Soulis had been ower lang at the college. 
He was careful and troubled for mony things besides 
the ae thing needful. He had a feck o' books wi' him 
— mair than had ever been seen before in a* that pres- 
bytery; and a sair wark the carrier had wi' them, for 
they were a' like to have smoored in the Deil's Hag 



THRAWN JANET ,,, 

toween this and Kilouckerli.. They were book, o' 
<l.v«u.y, ,0 be sure, o, ,o .hey ca'd ,hem t^ ,h. 
•enou. were C opinion there was h«le serTi« for 1 

- the :^t^z^ r .i^r„utri.r 

«rmon, and ,yne ,t proved he was writin' a book 
h^msel whtch was surely no fit.in> for ane of his y«^, 
an sma' experience. = "■ nis years 

wif^ToTeep'th':''"''"' "T '" «" - -"^- <'-'" 
wue to keep the manse for him an' see to his bit 

him^ras t^r '' '"' ""-'"'' »"« f" "ft •» 

..t.f„r„b:x:;\tran'dtirrhrdr 

ner mumblin' to hersel' nn r^« i- - t 
..».< whiik was anlcTti" e ^tTr a' O^! 
feann woman. Howsoever, it was the laird him^el' 
hat had first tauld the minister o' lane. «rtn 

Mi. was".. """ ""■ '"" •'"■'" ""^ »* '<> *e 
•h y iruo ,hITr'°\''^ '''^ "^^ "' ''■' »■ ""^n 
he w^ threep ,t doun their thrapples that thir day 

st^ILd. ' '''' "■" '"' ''=" -- --'f""^ - 

Weel. when it got about the clachan that Janet 



I 



13a THRAWN JANET 

M 'Clour was to be servant at the manse, the folk were 
fair mad wi' her an' him thegether; and some o' the 
guidwives had nae better to dae than get round her 
door cheeks and chairge her wi' a' that was ken't again 
her, frae the sodger's bairn to John Tamson's twa kye. 
She was nae great speaker; folk usually let her gang 
her ain gate, an' she let them gang theirs, wi' neither 
Fair-guid-een nor Fair-guid-day ; but when she buckled 
to, she had < a tongue to deave the miller. Up she got, 
an' there wasnae an auld story in Ba'weary but she 
gart somebody lowp for it that day ; they couldnae say 
ae thing but she could say twa to it ; till, at the hinder 
end, the guidwives up and claught baud of her, and 
clawed the coats aff her back, and pu'd her doun the 
clachan to the water o' Dule, to see if she were a witch 
or no, soum or droun. The carline skirled till ye could 
hear her at the Hangin' Shaw, and she focht like ten ; 
there was mony a guidwife bure the mark of her neist 
day an' mony a lang day after ; and just in the hettest 
o' the coUieshangie, wha suld come up (for his sins) 
but the new minister. 

•'Women," said he (and he had a grand voice), "I 
charge you in the Lord's name to let her go." 

Janet ran to him — she was fair wud wi' terror — 
an' clang to him, an' prayed him, for Christ's sake, 
save her frae the cummers; an' they, for their pairt, 
tauld him a' that was ken't, and maybe main 

" Woman," says he to Janet, "is this true? " 

"As the Lord sees me," says she, "as the Lord 
made me, no a word o't Forbye the bairn," says she, 
" I've been a decent woman a' my days." 

. Soulis, 



Will you," says 



in the name of God, 



THRAWN JANET ,33 

and before me, His unworthy minister, renounce the 
devil and his works?" 

Weel, it wad appear that when he askit that, she 
gave a girn that fairly frichtit them that saw her, an' 
they could hear her teeth play dirl thegether in her 
chafts; but there was naething for it but the ae way 
or the ither; an' Janet lifted up her hand and re- 
nounced the deil before them a'. 
"And now," says Mr. Soulis to the guidwives, 
home with ye, one and all, and pray to God for His 
forgiveness." 

And he gied Janet his arm, though she had little 
on her but a sark, and took her up the clachan to her 
am door like a leddy of the land; an' her scrieghin' 
and laughm' as was a scandal to be heard. 

There were mony grave folk lang ower their prayers 
that mcht; but when the mom cam' there was sic a 
fear fell upon a' Ba'weary that the bairns hid their- 
sels. and even the men folk stood and keekit frae their 
doors. For there was Janet comin' doun the clachan 
—her or her likeness, nane could tell— wi' her neck 
thrawn, and her heid on ae side, like a body that has 
been hangit, and a girn on her face like an unstreakit 
Corp. By-an'-by they got used wi' it, and even speered 
at her to ken what was wrang ; but frae that day forth 
she couldnae speak like a Christian woman, but slavered 
and played click wi' her teeth like a pair o' shears • 
and frae that day forth the name o' God cam' neve^ 
on her hps. Whiles she would try to say it but it 
michtnae be. Them that kenned best said least ; but 
they never gied that Thing the name o' Janet M«Clour : 
for the auld Janet, by their way o't, was in muckle 



134 THRAWN JANET 

hell that day. But the minister was neither to haud 
nor to bind ; he preached about naething but the folk's 
cruelty that had gi'en her a stroke of the palsy ; he 
skelpt the bairns that meddled her; and he had her 
up to the manse that same nicht, and dwalled there a' 
his lane wi' her under the Hangin' Shaw. 

Weel, time gaed by : and the idler sort commenced 
to think mair lichtly o' that black business. The 
minister was j weel thocht o'; he was aye late at the 
writing, folk wad see his can'le doon by the Dule 
water after twal' at e'en; and he seemed pleased wi' 
himsel' and upsitten as at first, though a' body could 
see that he was dwining. As for Janet she. cam' an' 
she gaed; if she didnae speak muckle afore, it was 
reason she should speak less then; she meddled 
naebody; but she was an eldritch thing to see, an' 
nane wad hae mistrysted wi' her for Ba'weary glebe. 

About the end o' July there cam' a spell o' weather, 
the like o't never was in that country side; it was 
lown an' het an' heartless; the herds couldnae win 
up the Black Hill, the bairns were ower weariet to 
play ; an' yet it was gousty too, wi' claps o' het wund 
that rumm'led in the glens, and bits o' shouers that 
slockened naething. We aye thocht it but to thun'er 
on the mom; but the mom cam', an' the mom's 
morning, and it was aye the same uncanny weather, 
sair on folks and bestial. Of a' that were the waur, 
nane suffered like Mr. Soulis; he could neither sleep 
nor eat, he tauld his elders; an' when he wasnae 
writin' at his weary book, he wad be stravaguin* 
ower a' the countryside like a man possessed, when 
a' body else was blythe to keep caller ben the house. 



THRAWN JANET ,35 

Abune Hangin' Shaw, in the bield o' the Black 
HOI there s a bit enclosed grund wi' an iron yett: 
and U seems, m the auld days, that was the kirkyaird 
o Ba weary, and consecrated by the Papists before 
the blessed licht shone upon the kingdom. It was 
a great howff o' Mr. Soulis's, onyway; there he 
would sit an' consider his sermons; and indeed it's 

he Black Hill, ae day, he saw first twa, an syne 
fower an syne seeven corbie craws fleein' round ar' 
round abune the auld kirkyaird. They flew laigh 
and heavy, an' squawked to ither as they gaed ; and 
It was clear to Mr. Soulis that something had put 
them frae their ordinar. He wasnae easy fleyed. an' 
gaed straucht up to the wa's; an' what suld he find 
there but a man. or the appearance of a man, sittin' 
m the mside upon a grave. He was of a great 
stature, an' black as hell, and his e'en were sin^lar 
to see.J Mr. Soulis had heard tell o' black men 
monys the time; but there was something unco 
about this black man that daunted him. Het as he 
was he took a kind o' cauld grue in the marrow o' 
his banes; but up he spak for a' that; an' says he: 
My fnend, are you a stranger in this place?" The 
black man answered never a word; he got upon 
his feet, an' begude to hirsle to the wa on the far 
siae; but he aye lookit at the minister; an' the 
mmister stood an' lookit back; till a' in a meenute 

1^ W. A/ • J !.' *PP"" '" '^^"*' *'tch trials and I think 
rn^Uws AfemoruUs, that delightful storehouse of the quaint a^d 



>' ^!1 



'36 THRAWN JANET 

the black man was ower the wa' an' rrnnin' for the 

bieldo the trees. Mr. Soulis. he hardly icenned why. 

an the het, unhalesome weather ; and rin as he likit 

the bxrks. tdl he won do«n to the foot o' the hiU-sid^ 
an there he saw him ance mair, gaun, hap, step, an' 
lowp, ower Dule water to the manse. 

Mr. Soulis wasnae weel pleased that this fearsome 
gangrel suld mak' sae free wi' Ba'weary manse; an' 
he mn the harder, an', wet shoon. ower the bum^ an' 
up the walk; but the deil a l.ack man was there to 

n!^hnf \k '^^u °"' "P°" '^'^ ^°^^' ^^' there was 
naebody there; he gaed a' ower the gairden, but na, 

nae black man. At the hinder end, and a bit feared 

as was but natural, he lifted the hasp and into the 

manse; and there was Janet M'Clour before his een. 

La '^T" "^^' "°^ '^"^ '^ P^^^^d to see 
him. And he aye mmded sinsyne, when first he set 
his^een upon her, he had the same cauld and deidly 

"Janet," says he, "have you seen a black man?" 
A black man?" quo' she. "Save us a'! Ye're 
no wise, minister. There's nae black man in a' 
Baweary." 

But she didnae speak plain, ye maun understand- 
but yam-yammered, like a powney wi' the bit in its 
moo. 

"Weel," says he. "Janet, if there was nae black 
man, I have sooken with .k« Accuser of the Brethren." 



And he sat down like ane wi' a fever, an' his 
chittered m his heid. 



teeth 



THRAWN JANET ,3^ 

"Hoots." says she, "think shame to yoursel' 

Syne Mr Soulis gaed into his study amang a' his 
books. Its a lang, laigh. mirk chalmer, perishin' 
^uld m wmter an' no very dry even in the tap o' 
Uie simmer, for the manse stands near the bum. Sae 
doun he sat, and thocht of a' that had oome an' gane 
since he was m Ba'weary, an' his hame, an' the days 
when he was a bairn an' ran daffin' in the braes 
and that black man aye ran in his heid like the ower-' 
come of a sang. Aye the mair he thocht, the mair he 
thocht o' the black man. He tried the p;ayer, an' the 
words wouldnae come to him; an' he tried' th^ say 
to wnte at h:s book, but he could nae mak' nae mair o' 
that. There was whiles he thocht the black man was 
at his oxter, an' the swat stood upon him cauld as well- 

!!' rJ u^"^ ""^ °'^^' ^^""'' ^^^" h« ^^' to him- 
sel like a christened bairn and minded naething. 

The upshot was that he gaed to the window an' 

sjood glownn' at Dule water. The trees are unco 

thick, an the water lies deep an' black under the 

manse; an there was Janet washin' the cla'es wi' her 

coats kilted. She had her back to the minister, an' he, 

for his pairt, hardly kenned what he was lookin' at 

Syne she turned round, an' shawed her face; Mr. 

bouhs had the same cauld grue as twice that day 

atore, an it was borne in upon him what folk said. 

that Tanpf- mae A^:^ 1 ... ' 



that Janet was dei-i lang syne, an' this wa. . 
her clay-cauld flesh. He drew back a pickle 



m 

scanned her narrowly, 

cla'es, croonin 



was a bogle 

pickle and he 

She was tramp-trampin' in the 

hersel' ; and eh ! Gude guide us, but 



'38 THRAWN JANET 

it was a fearsome face. Whiles she sang louder, but 
there was nae man born o' woman that could tell the 
words o' her sang ; an' whiles she lookit side-lang doun, 
but there was naething there for her to look at. There 
gaed a scunner through the flesh upon his banes; and 
that was Heeven's advertisement. But Mr. Soulis just 
blamed himsel', he said, to think sae ill of a puir, 
auld afflicted wife that hadnae a freend forbye him- 
sel'; an' he put up a bit prayer for him and her, an' 
drank a little caller water— for his heart rose again 
the meat — an' gaed up to his naked bed in the 
gloaming. 

That was a nicht that has never been forgotten 
in Ba'weary, the nicht o' the seventeenth of August, 
seventeen hun'er' an twal'. It had been het afore, as 
I hae said, but that nicht it was better than ever. The 
sun gaed doun amang unco-lookin' clouds; it fell as 
mirk as the pit; no a star, no a breath o' wund; ye 
couldnae see your han' afore your face, and even the 
auld folk cuist the covers frae their beds and lay 
pechin' for their breath. Wi' a' that he had upon his 
mind, it was gey and unlikely Mr. Soulis wad get 
muckle sleep. He lay an' he tummled; the gude, 
caller bed that he got into brunt his very banes • whiles 
he slept, and whiles he waukened ; whiles he heard the 
time o' nicht, and whiles a tyke yowlin' up the muir, 
as if somebody was deid ; whiles he thocht he heard 
bogles claverin' in his lug, an' whiles he saw spunkies 
in the room. He behoved, he judged, to be sick; an 
sick he was — little he jaloosed the sickness. 

At the hinder end, he got a clearness in his mind, 
sat up in his sark on the bed-side, and fell thinkin' 



THRAWN JANET ,39 

ance mair o' the black man an' Janet He couldnae 
weel tell how— maybe it was the cauld to his feet— 
but it cam' in upon him wi' a spate that there was 
some connection between thir twa, an' that either or 
baith o' them were bogles. And just at that moment, 
m Janet's room, which was neist to his, there cam' a 
stramp o' feet as if men were wars'Hn', an' then a loud 
bang; an' then a wund gaed reishling round the fower 
quarters of the house; an' then a' was aince mair as 
seelent as the grave. 

Mr. Soulis was feared for neither man nor deevil. 
He got his tinder-box, an' lit a can'le, an' made three 
steps o't ower to Janet's door. It was on the hasp, 
an' he pushed it open, an' keeked bauldly in. It was 
a big room, as big as the minister's ain, an' plenished 
wi' grand, auld, solid gear, for he had naething else. 
There was a fower-posted bed wi' auld tapestry; and 
a braw cabinet of aik, that was fu' o' the minister's 
divinity books, an' put there to be out o' the gate ; an' 
a wheen duds o' Janet's lying here and there about 
the floor. But nae Janet could Mr. Soulis see; nor 
ony sign of a contention. In he gaed (an* there's few 
that wad ha'e followed him) an' lookit a' round, an' 
listened. But there was naethin' to be heard, neither 
inside the manse nor in a' Ba'weary parish, an' naethin' 
to be seen but the muckle shadows turnin' round the 
can'le. An' then a' at aince, the minister's heart played 
dunt an' stood stock-still; an' a cauld wund blew amang 
the hairs o' his heid. Whaten a weary sicht was that 
for the puir man's een I For there was Janet hangin' 
frae a nail beside the auld aik cabinet : her heid aye 
lay on her shoother, her een were steeked, the tongue 



MO THRAWN JANET 

projekit frae her mouth, and her heels were twa feet 
clear abune the floor. 

"God forgive us all!" thocht Mr. Soulis; "poor 
Janet's dead." 

He cam' a step nearer to the corp ; an' then his heart 
fair whammled in his inside. For by what cantrip it 
wad ill-beseem a man to judge, she was hingin' frae 
a single nail an' by a single wursted thread for dc -nin* 
hose. 

It's an awfu' thing to be your lane at nicht wi' siccan 
prodigies o' darkness; but Mr. Soulis was strong in 
the Lord. He turned an' gaed his ways oot o' that 
room, and lockit the door ahint him; and step by 
step , doon the stairs, as heavy as leed ; and set doon 
the can'le on the table at the stairfoot. He couldnae 
pray, he couldnae think, he was dreepin' wi' caul' swat, 
an' naething could he hear but the dunt-dunt-duntin' 
o' his ain heart. He micht maybe have stood there 
an hour, or maybe twa, he minded sae little ; when a' 
o* a sudden, he heard a laigh, uncanny steer upstairs • 
a foot gaed to an' fro in the cha'mer whaur the corp 
was hingin'; syne the door was opened, though he 
minded weel that he had lockit it ; an' syne there was 
a step upon the landin', an' it seemed to him as if the 
corp was lookin' ower the rail and doun upon him whaur 
he stood. 

He took up the can'le again (for he couldnae want 
the licht), and as saftly as ever he could, gaed straucht 
out o* the manse an' to the far end o' the causeway. 
It was aye pit-mirk; the flame o' the can'le, when he 
set it on the grund, brunt steedy and clear as in 
a room ; naething moved, but the Dule water seepin' 



THRAWN JANET ,4, 

and sabbin' doon the glen, an' yon unhaly footstep 
that cam' ploddin' doun the stairs inside the manse. 
He kenned the foot over weel, for it was Janet's; and 
at ilka step that cam' a wee thing nearer, the cauld 
got deeper in his vitals. He commended his soul to 
Him that made an' keepit him; "and O Lord," said 
he, "give m? strength this 'night to war against the 
powers of evil." 

By this time the foot was comin' through the passage 
for the door; he could hear a hand skirt alang the 
wa', as if the fearsome thing was feelin' for its way. 
The saughs tossed an' maned thegether, a lang sigh 
cam' ower the hills, the flame o' the can'le was 
blawn aboot; an' there stood the corp of Thrawn ' 
Janet, wi' her grogram goun an' her black mutch, wi' 
the heid aye upon the shouther, an' the girn still 
upon the face o't— leevin', ye wad hae said— deid, as 
Mr. Soulis weel kenned— upon the threshold o' the 
manse. 

It's a strange thing that the saul of man should be 
that thirled into his perishable body; but the minister 
saw that, an' his heart didnae break. 

She didnae stand there lang; she began to move 
again an' cam' slowly towards Mr. Soulis whaur he stood 
under the saughs. A' the life o' his body, a' the 
strength o' his speerit, were glowerin' frae his een. It 
seemed she was gaun to speak, but wanted words, an' 
made a sign wi' the left hand. There cam' a clap o' 
wund, like a cat's fuflF; oot gaed the can'le, the saughs 
skrieghed like folk; an' Mr. SouUs kenned that, live or 
die, this was the end o't. 

"Witch, beldame, devil!" he cried, "I charge you, 



t4f THRAWN JANET 

by the power of God, begone — if you be dead, to the 
grave — if you be damned, to hell." 

An' at that moment the LoM's ain hand out o' 
the Heevens struck the Horror whaur it stood; the 
auld, deid, desecrated corp o' the witch-wife, sae lang 
keepit frae the grave and hirsled round by deils, lowed 
up like a brunstane spunk and fell in ashes to the 
grund ; the thunder followed, peal on dirling peal, the 
rairing rain upon the back o' that; and Mr. Soulis 
lowped through the garden hedge, and ran, wi' skelloch 
upon skelloch, for the clachan. 

That same mornjn', John Christie saw the Black Man 
pass the Muckle Cairn as it was chappin' six; before 
eicht, he gaed by the change-house at Knockdow ; an' 
no lang after, Sandy M'Lellan saw him gaun linkin' 
doun the braes frae Kilmackerlie. There's little doubt 
but it was him that dwalled sae lang in Janet's body ; 
but he was awa' at last ; and sinsyne the deil has never 
fashed us in Ba'weary. 

But it was a sair dispensation for the minister ; lang, 
lang he lay ravin' in his bed; and frae that hour to 
this, he was the man ye ken the day. 



OLALLA 



"Now," said the doctor, "my part is done, and, I may 
say, with some vanity, well done. It remains only to 
get you out of this cold and poisonous city, and to 
give you two months of a pure air -nd an easy con- 
science. The last is your affair. To the first I think 
I can help you. It falls indeed rather oddly; it was 
but the other day the Padre came in from the country ; 
and as he and I are old friends, although of contrary 
professions, he applied to me in a matter of distress 
among some of his parishioners. This was a family 
—but you are ignora ^ of Spain, and even the names 
of our grandees are drdly known to you; suffice it, 
then, that they we: . once great people, and are now 
fallen to the brink of destitution. Nothing now belongs 
to them but the residencia, and certain leagues of desert 
mountain, in vhe greater part of which not even a goat 
could support life. But the house is a fine old place, 
and stands at a great height among the hills, and most 
salubriously; and I had no sooner heard my friend's 
tale, than I remembered you. I told him I had a 
wounded officer, wounded in the good cause, who was 
now able to make a change ; and I proposed that his 
friends should take you for a lodger. Instantly the 
Padre's face grew dark, as I had maliciously foreseen 



M3 




144 OLALLA 

it would. It was out of the question, he said. Then 
let them starve, said I, for I have no sympathy with 
tatterdemalion pride. Thereupon we separated, not 
very content with one another; but yesterday, to my 
wonder, the Padre returned and made a submission : 
the difficulty, he said, he had found upon enquiry to 
be less than he had feared ; or, in other words, these 
proud people had put their pride in their pocket. I 
closed with the offer; and, subject to your approval, 
I have taken rooms for you in the residencia. The 
air of these mountains will renew your blood ; and the 
quiet in which you will there live is worth all the 
medicines in the world." 

"Doctor," said I, "you have been throughout my 
good angel, and your advice is u com -iand. But tell 
me, if you please, something of th' iamily with which 
I am to reside." 

"I am coming to that," replied my friend; "and, 
indeed, there is a difficulty in the way. These beggars 
are, as I have said, of very high descent and swollen 
with the most baseless vanity; they have lived for 
some generations in a growing isolation, drawing away, 
on either hand, from the rich who had now become 
too high for them, and from the poor, whom they 
still regarded as too low; and even to-day, when 
poverty forces them to unfasten their door to a guest, 
they cannot do so without a most ungracious stipula- 
tion. You are to remain, they say, a stranger; they 
will give you attendance, but they refuse from the first 
the idea of the smallest intimacy." 

I will not deny that I was piqued, and perhaps the 
feeling strengthened my desire to go, for I was confi- 



OLALLA ,^j 

dent that I could break down that barrier if I desired. 
•• There ii nothing offensive in such a stipulation," said I ; 
" and I even sympathise with the feeling that inspired it." 
"It is true they have never seen you," returned 
the doctor politely; "and if they knew you were the 
handsomest and the most pleasant man that ever 
came f om England (where I am told that handsome 
men are common, but pleasant ones not so much so), 
liiey would doubtless make you welcome with a better 
grace. But since you take the thing so well, it matters 
not To me, indeed, it seems discourteous. But you 
will find yourself the gainer. The family will not 
much tempt you. A mother, a son, and a daughter; 
an old woman said to be half-witted, a country lout,' 
and a country girl, who stands very high with her 
confessor, and is, therefore," chuckled the physician 
"most hkely plain; there is not much in that to 
attract the fancy of a dashing officer." 

"And yet you say they are high-born," I objected. 
"Well, as to that, I should distinguish," returned 
the doctor. "The mother is; not so the children. 
The mother was the last representative of a princely 
stock, degenerate both in parts and fortune. Her 
father was not only poor, he was mad : and the giri 
ran wild about the residencia till his death. Then, 
much of the fortune having died with him, and the 
family being quite extinct, the girl ran wilder than 
ever, until at last she married. Heaven knows whom 
a muleteer some say, others a smuggler; while there 
are some who uphold there was no marriage at all 
and that Felipe and Olalla are bastards. The union* 
such as it was, was tragically dissolved some yeari 



146 



OLALLA 



ago; but they live in such seclusion, and the country 
at that time was in so much disorder, that the pre- 
cise manner of the man's end is known only to the 
priest — if even to him," 

" I begin to think I shall have strange experiences," 
said I. 

" I would not romance, if I were you," replied the 
doctor; "you will find, I fear, a very grovelling and 
commonplace reality. Felipe, for instance, I have 
seen. And what am I to say? He is very rustic, 
very cunning, very loutish, and, I should say, an inno- 
cent ; the others are probably to match. No, no, senor 
commandante, you must seek congenial society among 
the great sights of our mountains; and in these at 
least, if you are at all a lover of the works of nature, 
I promise you will not be disappointed." 

The next day Felipe came for me in a rough 
country cart, drawn by a mule; and a little before 
the stroke of noon, after I had said farewell to the 
doctor, the innkeeper, and different good souls who 
had befriended me during my sickness, we set forth 
out of the city by the Eastern gate, and began to 
ascend into the Sierra. I had been so long a prisoner, 
since I was left behind for dying after the loss of the 
convoy, that the mere smell of the earth set me 
smiling. The country through which we went was 
wild and rocky, partially covered with rough woods, 
now of the cork-tree, and now of the great Spanish 
chestnut, and frequently intersected by the beds of 
mountain torrents. The sun shone, the mnd rustled 
joyously; and we had advanced some miles, and the 
city had already shrunk into an inconsiderable knoll 



OLALLA x^y 

upon the plain behind us, before my attention began 
to be diverted to the companion of my drive. To the 
eye, he seemed but a diminutive, loutish, well-made 
country lad, such as the doctor had described, mighty 
quick and active, but devoid of any culture; and this 
first impression was with most observers final. What 
began to strike me was his familiar, chattering ulk; 
so strangely inconsistent with the terms on which I 
was to be received; and partly from his imperfect 
enunciation, partly from the sprightly incoherence of 
the matter, so very difficult to follow clearly without 
an effort of the mind. It is true I had before talked 
with persons of a similar mental constitution; perso. s 
who seemed to live (as he did) by the senses, taken 
and possessed by the visual object of the moment and 
unable to discharge their minds of that impression. 
His seemed to me (as I sat, distantly giving ear) a 
kind of conversation proper to drivers, who pass much 
of their time in a great vacancy of the intellect and 
threading the sights of a familiar country. But this 
was not the case of Felipe ; by his own account, he was 
a home-keeper; " I wish I was there now," he said ; and 
then, spying a tree by the wayside, he broke off to tell 
me that he had once seen a crow among its branches. 

"A crow?" I repeated, struck by the ineptitude of 
the remark, and thinking I had heard imperfectly. 

But by this time he was ab-eady filled with a new idea ; 
hearkening with a rapt intentness, his head on one side,' 
his face puckered ; and he struck me rudely, to make me 
hold my peace. Then he smiled and shook his head. 
" What did you hear?" I asked. 
'O, it is all right," he said; and began encouraging 



«i 



X48 



OLALLA 



his mule with cries that echoed unhumanly up the 
mountain walls. 

I looked at him more closely. He was superlatively 
well-built, light, and lithe and strong; he was well- 
featured; his yellow eyes were very large, though, 
perhaps, not very expressive; take him altogether, he 
was a pleasant-looking lad, and I had no fault to find 
with him, beyond that he was of a dusky hue, and 
inclined to hairyness; two characteristics that I dis- 
liked. It was his mind that puzzled, and yet attracted 
me. The doctor's phrase— an innocent — came back 
to me; and I was wondering if that were, after all, 
the true descriptipn, when the road began to go down 
into the narrow and naked chasm of a torrent. The 
waters thundered tumultuously in the bottom; and 
the ravine was filled full of the sound, the thin spray, 
and the claps of wind, that accompanied their descent. 
The scene was certainly impressive; but the road was 
in that part very securely walled in; the mule went 
steadily forward; and I was astonished to perceive 
the paleness of terror in the face of my companion. 
The voice of that wild river was inconstant, now 
sinking lower as if in weariness, now doubling its 
hoarse tones; momentary freshets seemed to swell its 
volume, sweeping down the gorge, raving and boom- 
ing against the barrier walls; and I observed it was 
at each of these accessions to the clamour, that my 
driver more particularly winced and blanched. Some 
thoughts of Scottish superstition and the river Kelpie 
passed across my mind ; I wondered if perchance the 
like were prevalent in that part of Spain ; and turning 
to Felipe, sought to draw him out 



149 



OLALLA 

" What is the matter ? " I asked. 

" O, I am afraid," he replied. 

"Of what are you afraid?" I returned, "This 
seems one of the safest places on this very dangerous 
road." 

" It makes a noise," he said, with a simplicity of awe 
that set my doubts at rest. 

The lad was but a child in intellect; his mind 
was like his body, active and swift, but stunted in 
development; and I began from that time forth to 
regard him with a measure of pity, and to listen at 
first with indulgence, and at last even with pleasure, 
to his disjointed babble. 

By about four in the afternoon we had crossed the 
summit of the mountain line, said farewell to the 
western sunshine, and began to go down upon the 
other side, skirting the edge of many ravines and 
moving through the shadow of dusky woods. There 
rose upon all sides the voice of falling water, not con- 
densed and formidable as in the gorge of the river, but 
scattered and sounding gaily and musically from glen 
to glen. Here, too, the spirits of my driver mended, 
and he began to sing aloud in a falsetto voice, and 
with a singular bluntness of musical perception, never 
true cither to melody or key, but wandering at will, 
and yet somehow with an effect that was natural and 
pleasing, like that of the song of birds. As the dusk 
increased, I fell more and more under the spell of this 
artless warbling, listening and waiting for some articu- 
late air, and still disappointed ; and when at last I asked 
him what it was he sang— "Oh," cried he, "I am just 
singing ! " Above all, I war taken with a trick he had 



ISO 



OLALLA 



of unweariedly repeating the same note at little intervals ; 
it v>as not so monotonous as you would think, or, at 
'rrst, not disagreeable; and it seemed to breathe a 
wonderful contentment with what is, such as we love 
to fancy in the attitude of trees, or the quiescence of 
a pool. 

Night had fallen dark before we came out upon a 
plateau, and drew up a little after, before a certain lump 
of superior blackness which I could only conjecture to 
be the residencia. Here, my guide, getting down from 
the cart, hooted and whistled for a long time in vain; 
until at last an old peasant man came towards us from 
somewhere in the surrounding dark, carrying a candle 
in his hand. By the light of this I was able to perceive 
a great arched doorway of a Moorish character : it was 
closed by iron-studded gates, in one of the leaves of 
which Felipe opened a wicket. The peasant carried oflF 
the cart to some out-building; but my guide and I 
passed through the wicket, which was closed again be- 
hind us; and by the glimmer of the candle, passed 
through a court, up a stone stair, along a section of an 
open gallery, and up more stairs again, until we came at 
last to the door of a great and somewhat bare apartment. 
This room, which I understood was to be mine, was 
pierced by three windows, lined with some lustrous 
wood disposed in panels, and carpeted with the skins 
of many savage animals. A bright fire burned in the 
chimney, and shed abroad a changeful flicker ; close up 
to the blaze there was drawn a table, laid for supper; 
and in the far end a bed stood ready. I was pleased by 
these preparations, and said so to Felipe ; and he, with 
the same simplicity of disposition that I had already 



OLALLA 151 

remarked in him, warmly re-eclioed my praises. "A 
fine room," he said; "a very fine room. And fire, 
too; fire is good; it melts out the pleasure in your 
bones. And the bed," he continued, carrying over the 
candle in that direction— " see what fine sheets — how 
soft, how smooth, smooth;" and he passed his hand 
again and again over their texture, and then laid down 
his head and rubbed his cheeks among them with a 
grossness of content that somehow offended me. I 
took the candle from his hand (for I feared he would 
set the bed on fire) and walked back to the supper-table, 
where, perceiving a measure of wine, I poured out a cup 
and called to him to come and drink of it. He started 
to his feet at once and ran to me with a strong expres- 
sion of hope; but when he saw the wine, he visibly 
shuddered. 

"Oh, no," he said, "not that; that is for you. I 
hate it" 

"Very well, Seftor," said I; "then 1 will drink to 
your good health, and to the prosperity of your house 
and family. Speaking of which," I added, after I had 
dnmk, "shall I not have the pleasure of laying my 
salutations in person at the feet of the Senora, your 
mother?" 

But at these words all the childishness passed out 
of his face, and wis succeeded by a look of indescribable 
cunning and secrecy. He backed away from me at the 
same time, as though I were an animal about to leap or 
some dangerous fellow with a weapon, and when he had 
got near the door, glowered at me sullenly with con- 
tracted pupils. "No," he said at last, and the next 
moment was gone noiselessly out of the room ; and I 



»S» OLALLA 

heard his footing die away downstairs as light as rainfall, 
and silence closed over the house. 

tK ^uZ ^ ^u '"PP^^ ^ ^'^"^ "P ^^« '^ble nearer to 
the bed and began to prepare for rest; but in the new 
position of the hght. I was struck by a picture on the 
wall It represented a woman, still young. To judge 
by her costume and the mellow unity which reigned 
over the canvas, she had long been dead; to judge by 
«ie vivacity of the attitude, the eyes and the feafures, 
I might have been beholding in a mirror the image of 
hfe. Her figure was very slim and strong, and of a 
just proportion; red tresses lay like a crown over her 

with a look; and her face, which was perfectly shaped, 
was yet marred by a cruel, sullen, and sensual%x- 
pression. Something in both face and figure, some- 
thmg exquisitely intangible, like the echo of an echo 
suggested the features and bearing of my guide ; and 
I stood awhile, unpleasantly attracted and wondering 
at the oddity of the resemblance. The common 
carnal stock of that race, which had been originally 
designed for such high dames as the one now looking 
on me from the canvas, had fallen to baser uses, wear- 
ing country clothes, sitting on the shaft and holding 
die reim of a mule cart, to bring home a lodger 
Perhaps an actual link subsisted; perhaps some scruple 
of the delicate flesh that was once clothed upon with 
the satm and brocade of the dead lady, now winced 
at the rude contact of Felipe's frieze. 

The first light of the morning shone full upon the 
portrait, and. as I lay awake, my eyes continued to 
dwell upon it with growing complacency; its beauty 



OLALLA ,53 

crept about my heart insidiously, silencing my scruples 
one after another; and while I knew that to love such 
a woman were to sign and seal one's own sentence of 
degeneration, I still knew that, if she were alive, I 
should love her. Day after day the double knowledge 
of her wickedness and of my weakness grew clearer. 
She came to be the heroine of many day-dreams, in 
which her eyes led on to, and sufficiently rewarded, 
crimes. She cast a dark shadow on my fancy; and 
when I was out in the free air of heaven, taking 
vigorous exercise and healthily renewing the current 
of my blood, it was often a glad thought to me that 
my enchantress was safe in the grave, her wand of 
beauty broken, her lips closed in silence, her philtre 
spilt And yet I had a half-lingering terror that she 
might not be dead after all, but re-arisen in the body 
of some descendant. 

Felipe served my meals in my own apartment; and 
his resemblance to the portrait haunted me. At times 
it was not; at times, upon some change of attitude 
or flash of expression, it would leap out upon me like 
a ghost It was above all in his ill tempers that the 
likeness triumphed. He certainly liked me; he was 
proud of my notice, which he sought to engage by 
many simple and childlike devices; he loved to sit 
close before my fire, talking his broken talk or singing 
his odd, endless, wordless songs, and sometimes draw- 
ing his hand over my clothes with an affectionate 
manner of caressing that never failed to cause in me 
an embarrassment of which I was ashamed. But for 
all that, he was capable of flashes of causeless anger 
and fits of sturdy suUenness. At a word of reproof, 



J 



If! 



«S4 OLALLA 

I have seen him upset the dish of which I was about 
to eat, and this not surreptitiously, but with defiance; 
and similarly at a hint of inquisition. I was not un- 
naturally curious, being in a strange place and sur- 
rounded by strange people; but at the shadow of a 
question, he shrank back, lowering and dangerous. 
Then it was that, for a fraction of a second, this 
rough lad might have been the brother of the lady in 
the frame. But these humours were swift to pass; 
and the resemblance died along with them. 

In these first days I saw nothing of any one but 
Felipe, unless the portrait is to be counted ; and since 
the lad was pl^nly of weak mind, and had moments 
of passion, it may be wondered that I bore his dan- 
gerous neighbourhood with equanimity. As a matter 
of fact, it was for some time irksome ; but it happened 
before long that I obtained over him so complete a 
mastery as set my disquietude at rest. 

It fell in this way. He was by nature slothful, and 
much of a vagabond, and yet he kept by the house, 
and not only waited upon my wants, but laboured 
every day in the garden or small farm to the south 
of the residencia. Here he would be joined by the 
peasant whom I had seen on the night of my arrival, 
and who dwelt at the far end of the enclosure, about 
half a mile away, in a rude out-house ; but it was plain 
to me that, of these two, it was r elipe who did most ; 
and though I would sometimes see him throw down 
his spade and go to sleep among the very plants he 
had been digging, his constancy and energy werw ad- 
mirable in themselves, and still more so since I was 
well assured they were foreign to his disposition and 



OLALLA 



155 



the fruit of an ungrateful effort. But while I admired, 
I wondered what had called forth in a lad so shuttle- 
witted this enduring sense of duty. How was it sus- 
tained ? I asked myself, and to what length did it prevail 
over his instincts ? The priest was possibly his inspirer ; 
but the priest came one day to the residencia. I saw 
him both come and go after an interval of close upon 
an hour, from a knoll where I was sketching, and all 
that time Felipe continued to labour undisturbed in 
the garden. 

At last, in a very unworthy spirit, I determined to 
debauch the lad from his good resolutions, and, way- 
laying him at the gate, easily persuaded him to join 
me in a ramble. It was a fine day, and the woods to 
which I led him were green and pleasant and sweet- 
smelling and alive with the hum of insects. Here he 
discovered himself in a fresh character, mounting up 
to heights of gaiety that abashed me, and displaying 
an energy and grace of movement that delighted the 
eye. He leaped, he ran round me in mere glee; he 
would stop, and look and listen, and seem to drink in 
the world like a cordial ; and then he would suddenly 
spring into a tree with one bound, and hang and 
gambol there like one at home. Little as he said to 
me, and that of not much import, I have rarely en- 
joyed more stirring company ; the sight of his delight 
was a continual feast ; the speed and accuracy of his 
movements pleased . to the heart ; and I might have 
been so thoughtlessly inkind as to make a habit of 
these walks, had not chance prepared a very rude 
conclusion to my pleasure. By some swiftness or 
dexterity the lad captured a squirrel in a tree top. 



'S« OLALLA 

He was then some way ahead of me, but I saw him 
drop to the ground and crouch there, crying aloud for 
pleasure like a child. The sound stirred my sympa- 
thies, It was so fresh and innocent; but as I bettered 
my pace to draw near, the cry of the squirrel knocked 
upon my heart. I have heard and seen much of the 
cruelty of lads, and above all of peasants; but what 
I now beheld struck me into a passion of anger. I 
thrust the fellow aside, plucked the poor brute out of 
his hands, and with swift mercy kUled it. Then I 
turned upon the torturer, spoke to him long out of the 
heat of my indignation, calling him names at which 
he seemed to wither; and at length, pomting toward 
the residencia, bade him begone and leave me, for I 
chose to walk with men, not with vermia He feU 
upon his knees, and, the words coming to him with 
more clearness than usual, poured out a stream of the 
most touching suppUcations, begging me in mercy to 
forgive him, to forget what he had done, to look to the 
future. "Oh, I try so hard," he said. " O, commandant^ 
bear with Felipe this once; he wiU never be a brute 
again I " Thereupon, much more affected than I cared 
to show, I suffered myself to be persuaded, and at 
last shook hands with him and made it up. But 
the squirrel, by way of penance, I made him bury; 
speaking of the poor thing's beauty, telling him what 
pains it had suffered, and how base a thing was the 
abuse of strength. "See, FeUpe," said I, "you are 
strong indeed; but in my hands you are as helpless 
as that poor thing of the trees. Give me your hand 
m mine. You cannot remove it Now suppose that 
I were cruel like you, and took a pleasure in paia I 



OLALLA 157 

only tighten my hold, and see how you suffer." He 
screamed aloud, his face stricken ashy and dotted with 
needle points of sweat; and when I set him free, he 
fell to the earth and nursed his hand and n -^ed over 
it like a baby. But he took the lesson in good part; 
and whether from that, or from what I had said to 
him, or the higher notion he now had of my bodily 
strength, his original affection was changed into a dog- 
like, adoring fidelity. 

Meanwhile I gained rapidly in health. The resi- 
dencia stood on the crown of a stony plateau; on 
every side the mountains hemmed it about ; only from 
the roof, where was a bartizan, there might be seen, 
between two peaks, a small segment of plain, blue with 
extreme distance. The air in these altitudes moved 
freely and largely ; great clouds congregated there, and 
were broken up by the wind and left in tatters on the 
hilltops ; a hoarse, and yet faint rumbling of torrents 
rose from all round; and one could there study all 
the ruder and more ancient characters of nature in 
something of their pristine force. I delighted from 
the first in the vigorous scenery and changeful weather ; 
nor less in the antique and dilapidated mansion where 
I dwelt. This was a large oblong, flanked at two 
opposite comers by bastion-like projections, one of 
which commanded the door, while both were loophoied 
for musketry. The lower storey was, besides, naked of 
windows, so that the building, if garrisoned, could 
not be carried without artillery. It enclosed an open 
court planted with pomegranate trees. From this a 
broad flight of marble stairs ascended to an open 
gallery, running all round and resting, towards the 



iS» 



OLALLA 



court, on ilender pillars. Thence again, several en- 
closed stairs led to the upper storeys of the house* 
which were thus broken up into distinct divisions. 
The windows, both within and without, were closely 
shuttered ; some of the stone-work in the upper parts 
had fallen ; the roof, in one place, had been wrecked 
in one of the flurries of wind which were common 
in these mountains ; and the whole house, in the strong, 
beating sunlight, and standing out above a grove of 
stunted cork-trees, thickly laden and discoloured with 
dust, looked like the sleeping palace of the legend 
The court, in particular, seemed the very home of 
slumber. A hdarse cooing of doves haunted about 
the eaves; the winds were excluded, but when they 
blew outside, the mountain dust fell here as thick 
as rain, and veiled the red bloom of the pomegranates ; 
shuttered windows and the closed doors of numerous 
cellars, and the vacant arches of the gallery, enclosed 
itj and all day long the sun made broken profiles 
on the four sides, and paraded the shadow of the 
pillars on the gallery floor. At the ground level there 
was, however, a certain pillared recess, which bore the 
marks of human habitation. Though it was open in 
front upon the court, it was yet provided with a chimney, 
where a wood fire would be always prettily blazing; 
and the tile floor was littered with the skins of animals. 

It was in this place that I first saw my hostess. She 
had drawn one of the skins forward and sat in the sun, 
leaning against a pillar. It was her dress that struck 
me first of all, for it was rich and brightly coloured, 
and shone out in that dusty courtyard with something 
of the same relief as the flowers of the pomegranates. 



OLALLA 159 

At a second look it was her beauty of person that took 
hold of me. As she sat back — watching me, I thought, 
though with invisible eyes — and wearing at the same 
time an expression of almost imbecile good-humour 
and contentment, she showed a perfectness of feature 
and a quiet nobility of attitude that were beyond a 
statue's. I took off iny hat to her in passing, and her 
face puckered with suspicion as swiftly and lightly as 
a pool ruffles in the breeze; but she paid no heed to 
my courtesy. I went forth on my customary walk a 
trifle daunted, her idol-like impassivity haunting me; 
and when I returned, although she was still in much 
the same posture, I was half surprised to see that she 
had moved as far as the next pillar, following the sun- 
shine. This time, however, she addressed me with 
some trivial salutation, civilly enough conceived, and 
uttered in the same deep-chested, and yet indistinct 
and lisping tones, that had already baffled the utmost 
niceness of my hearing from her son. I answered 
rather at a venture ; for not only did I fail to take her 
meaning with precision, but the sudden disclosure of 
her eyes disturbed me. They were unusually large, 
the iris golden like Felipe's, but the pupil at that 
moment so distended that they seemed almost black ; 
and what affected me was not so much their size as 
(what was perhaps its consequence) the singular insig- 
nificance of their regard. A look more blankly stupid 
I have never met. My eyes dropped before it even 
as I spoke, and I went on my way upstairs to my own 
room, at once baffled and embarrassed. Yet, when I 
came there and saw the face of the portrait, I was 
again reminded of the miracle of family descent. My 



Mai 



I.I 



1^:: 



.5 ' 



^ H 



I 



J3o olalla 

hostess was, indeed, both older and fuller in person; 
her eyes were of a different colour; her face, besides, 
was not only free from the ill-significance that offended 
and attracted me in the painting; it was devoid of 
either good or bad— a moral blank expressing literally 
naught And yet there was a likeness, not so much 
speaking as immanent, not so much in any particular 
feature as upon the whole. It should seem, I thought, 
as if when the master set his signature to that grave 
canvas, he had not only caught the image of one 
smiling and false-eyed woman, but stamped the 
essential quality of a race. 

From that day forth, whether I came or went, I was 
sure to find the Sefiora seated in the sun against a 
pillar, or stretched on a rug before the fire; only at 
times she would shift her station to the top round of 
the stone staircase, where she lay with the same non- 
chalance right across my path. In all these days, I 
never knew her to display the least spark of energy 
beyond what she expended in Lrushmg and re-bnishing 
her copious copper-coloured hair, or in lisping out, in 
the rich and broken hoarseness of her voice, her cus- 
tomary idle salutations to myself. These, I think, were 
her two chief pleasures, beyond that of mere quiescence. 
She seemed always proud of her remarks, as though 
they had been witticisms; and, indeed, though they 
were empty enough, like the conversation of many 
respectable persons, and turned on a very narrow 
vange of subjects, they were never meaningless or in- 
coherent ; nay, they had a certain beauty of their own, 
breathing, as they did, of her entire contentment 
Now she would speak of the warmth, in which (like 



OLALLA i6i 

her son) she greatly delighted ; now of the flowers of 
the pomegranate trees, and now of the white doves 
and long-winged swallows that fanned the air of the 
court. The birds excited her. As they raked the 
eaves in their swift flight, or skimmed sidelong past 
her with a rush of wind, she would sometimes stir, 
and sit a little up, and seem to awaken from her doze 
of satisfaction. But for the rest of her dayc she lay 
luxuriously folded on herself and sunk in sloth and 
pleasure. Her invincible content at first annoyed me, 
but I came gradually to find repose in the spectacle! 
until at last it grew to be my habit to sit down beside 
her four times in the day both coming and going, 
and to talk with her sleepily, I scarce knew of what! 
I had come to like her dull, almost animal neigh- 
bourhood; her beauty and her stupidity soothed and 
amused me. I began to find a kind of transcen- 
dent . -ood sense in her remarks, and her unfathom- 
able good nature moved me to admiration and envy. 
The liking was returned; she enjoyed my presence 
half-unconsciously, as a man in deep meditation may 
enjoy the babbling of a brook. I can scarce say she 
brightened when I came, for satisfaction was written 
on her face eternally, as on some foolish statue's ; but 
I was made conscious of her pleasure by some more 
intimate communication than the sight. And one day, 
as I sat within reach of her on the marble step, she 
suddenly shot forth one of her hands and patted 
mine. The thing was done, and she was back in her 
accustomed attitude, before my mind had received 
intelligence of the caress ; and when I turned to look 
her in the face I could perceive no answerable senti- 

L 



'6* OLALLA 

ment It was plain she attached no moment to the 
act, and I blamed myself for my own more uneasy 
consciousness. 

The sight and (if I may so call it) the acquaintance 
of the mother confirmed the view I had already taken 
of the son. The family blood had been impoverished, 
perhaps by long inbreeding, which I knew to be a 
common error among the proud and the exclusive. 
No decline, indeed, was to be traced in the body, 
which had been handed down unimpaired in shape- 
liness and strength; and the faces of to-day were 
struck as sharply from the mint, as the face of two 
centuries ago that smiled upon me from the portrait 
But the intelligence (that more precious heirloom) was 
degenerate ; the treasure of ancestral memory ran low ; 
and it had required the potent, plebeian crossing of a' 
muleteer or mountain contrabandista to raise, what 
approached hebetude in the mother, into the active 
oddity of the son. Yet of the two, it was the mother 
I preferred. Of Felipe, vengeful and placable, full of 
starts and shyings, inconstant as a hare, I could even 
conceive as a creature possibly noxious. Of the mother 
I had no thoughts but those of kindness. And indeed, 
as spectators are apt ignoraxitly to take sides, I grew 
something of a partisan in the enmity which I per- 
ceived to smoulder between them. True, it seemed 
mostly on the mother's part. She would sometimes 
draw in her breath as he came near, and the pupils 
of her vacant eyes would contract as if with horror or 
fear. Her emotions, such as they were, were much 
upon the surface and readily shared; and this latent 
repulsion occupied my mind, and kept me wondering 



OLALLA „j 

o« wha, grounds it rested. Md whether the son wa. 
certsuily in fault. 

I had been about ten days in the residencia, when 
clouds of dust It came out of malarious lowlZ^ 

ZZ" T^r" """'' ^''"-- The nerves of I« 
sZT >. TT '"""8 and jangled; their eye! 
smarted mth the dust; their legs ached under the 
burthen of the,r body, and the touch of one h»d 
upon another grew to be odious. The wind, besidT 
«^e down the guUies of the hiUs and stormed about 
fte home w.th a great, hollow buzzing and whistling 
that was wearisome to the ear and dismally depres^ 
mg to the mmd. It did not so much blow in gusT, 
as with the steady sweep of a waterfall, so that there 
was no remission of discomfort while it blew. But 
higher upon the mountain, it was probably of a more 
var^ble strength, with accesses of fury; for the" 
came down at times a farK,ff wailing, infi^ely grievou! 
to hear; and at times, on one of the high shSv« or 
terraces, there would start up. and then dTs^^ " 
tower of dust, hke the smoke of an explosion, 
I no sooner awoke in bed than I was conscious of 

^d TZ T'™ ""^ "'P'"^'"" "f ">« "-'her, 
and the effect grew stronger as the day proceeded 

stTth'" ™" *" ' '"'^'''^' '" -^ *atl 
set forth upon my customary morning's walk; the 

ina lonal, unchanging fury of the storm had s«>n 
be« down my strength and wrecked my temper; and 
iTTf » "«/«idencia, glowing with dry heat, 
"d foul and gntty with dust The court had a 
forlorn appearance; now and then a glimmer of 



Jt 

n 

SI 



5* 



164 



OLALLA 



sun fled over it; now and then the wind swooped 
down upon the pomegranates, and scattered the 
blossoms, and set the window shutters clapping on 
the wall. In the recess the Senora was pacing to 
and fro with a flushed countenance and bright eyes; 
I thought, too, she was speaking to herself, like one 
in anger. But when I addressed her with my cus- 
tomary salutation, she only replied by a sharp gesture 
and continued her walk. The weather had distempered 
even this impassive creature ; and as I went on upstairs 
I was the less ashamed of my own discomposure. 

All day the wind continued ; and I sat in my room 
and made a feint of reading, or walked up and down, 
and listened to the riot overhead. Night fell, and I 
had not so much as a candle. I began to long for 
some society, and stole down to the court It was 
now plunged in the blue of the first darkness; but 
the recess was redly lighted by the fire. The wood 
had been piled high, and was crowned by a shock of 
flames, which the draught of the chimney brandished 
to and fro. In this strong and shaken brightness the 
Senora continued pacing from wall to wall with dis- 
connected gestures, clasping her hands, stretching 
forth her arms, throwing back her head as in appeal 
to he: ven. In these disordered movements the beauty 
and grace of the woman showed more clearly; but 
there was a light in her eye that struck on me un- 
pleasantly ; and when I had looked on awhile in 
silence, and seemingly unobserved, I turned tail as 
I had come, and groped my way back again to my 
own chamber. 

By the time Felipe brought my supper and lights. 



OLALLA 



»«S 



my nerve was utterly gone; and, had the lad been 
■uch as I was used to seeing him, I should have kept 
him (even by force had that been necessary) to take off 
the edge from my distasteful solitude. But on Felipe, 
also, the wind had exercised its influence. He had 
been feverish all day ; now that the night had come 
he was fallen into a low and tremulous humour that 
reacted on my own. The sight of his scared face, his 
starts and pallors and sudden harkenings, unstrung 
me ; and when he dropped and broke a dish, I fairly 
leaped out of my seat. 

"I think we are all mad to-day," said I, affecting 
to laugh. 

"It is the black wind," he replied dolefully. "You 
feel as if you must do something, and you don't know 
what it is." 

I noted the aptness of the description ; but, indeed, 
Felipe had sometimes a strange felicity in rendering 
into words the sensations of the body. "And your 
mother, too," said I; "she seems to feel this weather 
much. Do you not fear she may be unwell ? " 

He stared at me a little, and then said, "No," 
almost defiantly; and the next moment, carrying 
his hand to his brow, cried out lamentably on the 
wind and the noise that made his head go round like 
a millwheel. "Who can be well?" he cried; and, 
indeed, I could only echo his question, for I was 
disturbed enough myself 

I went to bed early, wearied with day-long rest- 
lessness, but the poisonous nature of the wind, and 
its ungodly and unintermittent uproar, would not 
suffer me to sleep. I lay there and tossed, my nerves 



^^^^■^l^^^ 



i66 



OLALLA 



and senses on the stretch. At times I would do2c, 
dream horribly, and wake again ; and these snatches 
of oblivion confused me as to time. But it must 
have been late on in the night, when I was suddenly 
startled by an outbreak of pitiable and hateful cries. 
I leaped from my bed, supposing I had dreamed ; but 
the cries still continued to fill the house, cries of pain, 
I thought, but certainly of rage also, and so savage 
and discordant that they shocked the heart. It was 
no illusion; some living thing, some lunatic or some 
wild animal, was being foully tortured. The thought 
of Felipe and the squirrel flashed into my mind, and 
I ran to the door, but it had been locked from the 
outside; and I might shake it as I pleased, I was a 
fast prisoner. Still the cries continued. Now they 
would dwindle down into a moaning that seemed to 
be articulate, and at these times I made sure they 
must be human; and again they would break forth 
and fill the house with ravings worthy of hell. I 
stood at the door and gave ear to them, till at last 
they died away. Long after that, I siin lingered and 
still continued to hear them minglt ir. iancy with the 
storming of the wind ; and when at last I crept to my 
bed, it was with a deadly sickness and a blackness of 
horror on my heart. 

It was little wonder if I slept no more. Why had 
I been locked in ? What had passed ? Who was the 
author of these indescribable and shocking cries? A 
human being ? It was inconceivable. A beast ? The 
cries weie scarce quite bestial ; and what animal, short 
of a lion or a tiger, could thus shake the solid walls 
of the residencia? And while I was thus turning 



OLALLA ,6y 

over the elements of the mystery, it came into my 
mmd that I had not yet set eyes upon the daughter 
of the house. What was more probable than that 
the daughter of the Senora. and the sister of Felipe 
should be herself insane? Or. what more likely than 
that these ignorant and half-witted people should seek 
to manage an afflicted kinswoman by violence? Here 
was a solution ; and yet when I called to mind the 
cnes (which I never did without a shuddering chill) 
It seemed altogether insufficient: not even cruelty 
could wring such cries from madness. But of one 
thing I was sure : I could not live in a house where 
such a thing was half conceivable, and not probe the 
matter home and, if necessary, interfere. 

The next day came, the wind had blown itself out 
and there was nothing to remind me of the business 
of the night. Felipe came to my bedside with obvious 
cheerfulness; as I passed through the court, the 
Seftora was sunning herself with her accustomed 
immobility; and when I issued from the gateway I 
found the whole face of nature austerely smiling, the 
heavens of a cold blue, and sown with great cloud 
islands, and the mountain-sides mapped forth into 
provinces of light and shadow. A short walk restored 
me to myself, and renewed within me the resolve to 
plumb this mystery; and when, from the vantage of 
my knoll, I had seen Felipe pass forth to his labours 
in the garden, I returned at once to the residencia to 
put my design in practice. The Senora appeared 
plunged m slumbr:; I stood awhile and marked her, 
but she did not stir; even if my design were in- 
discreet, I had little to fear from such a guardian • 



i68 



OLALLA 



«: 



and turning away, I mounted to the gallery and 
began my exploration of the house. 

All morning I went from on'' door to another, and 
entered spacious and faded chambers, some rudely 
shuttered, some receiving their full charge of day- 
light, all empty and unhomely. It was a rich house, 
on which Time had breathed his tarnish and dust 
had scattered disillusion. The spider swung there; 
the bloated tarantula scampered on the ^urnices; 
ants had their crowded highways on the floor of halls 
of audience ; the big and foul fly, that lives on carrion 
and is often the messenger of death, had set up his 
nest in thi rotten woodwork, and buzzed heavily 
about the rooms. Here and there a stool or two, a 
couch, a bed, or a great carved chair remained 
behind, like islets on the bare floors, to testify of 
man's bygone habitation; and everywhere the walls 
were set with the portraits of the dead. I could 
judge, by these decaying effigies, in the house of what 
a great and what a handsome race I was then wander- 
ing. Many of the men wore orders on their breasts 
and had the port of noble offices ; the women were all 
richly attired; the canvases most of them by famous 
hands. But it was not so much these evidences of 
greatness that took hold upon my mind, even con- 
trasted, as they were, with the present depopulation 
and decay of that great house. It was rather the 
parable of family life that I read in this succession of 
fair faces and shapely bodies. Never before had I so 
realised the miracle of the continued race, the creation 
and recreation, the weaving and changing and hand- 
ing down of fleshly elements. That a child should 



OLALLA 169 

be bom of its mother, that it should grow and clothe 
itself (we know not how) with humanity, and put on 
inherited looks, and turn its head with the manner of 
one ascendant, and offer its hand with the gesture of 
another, are wonders dulled for us by repetition. But 
in the singular unity of look, in the common features 
and common bearing, of all these painted generations 
on the walls of the residencia, the miracle started out 
and looked me in the face. And an ancient mirror 
falling opportunely in my way, I stood and read my 
own features a long while, tracing out on either hand 
the filaments of descent and the bonds that knit me 
with my family. 

At last, in the course of these investigations, I 

opened the door of a chamber that bore the marks 

of habitation. It was of large proportions and faced 

to the north, where the mountains were most wildly 

figured. The embers of a fire smouldered and smoked 

upon the hearth, to which a chair had been drawn 

close. And yet the aspect of the chamber was ascetic 

to the degree of sternness ; the chair was uncushioned ; 

the floor and walls were naked ; and beyond the books 

which lay here and there in some confusion, there was 

no instrument of either work or pleasure. The sight 

of books in the house of such a family exceedingly 

amazed me; and I began with a great hurry, and in 

momentary fear of interruption, to go from one to 

another and hastily inspect their character. They 

were of all sorts, devotional, historical, and scientific, 

but mostly of a great age and in the Latin tongue. 

Some I could see to bear the marks of constant study; 

others had been torn across and tossed aside as if in 



1:1 

m 



»7« OLALLA 

petulance or disapproval Lastly, as I cruised about 
that empty chamber, I espied some papers written 
upon with pencil on a table near the window. An 
unthinking curiosity led me to take one up. It bore 
a copy of verses, very roughly metred in the original 
Spanish, and which I may render somewhat thus— 

PlcMure approached with pain and shame, 
Grief with a wreath of lilies came. 
Pleasure showed the lovely sun ; 
Jesu dear, how sweet it shone I 
Grief with her worn hand pointed (», 
^ Jesu dear, to thee ! 

Shame and confusion at once fell on me; and, 
Uying down the paper, I beat an immediate retreat 
from the apartment Neither Felipe nor his mother 
could have read the books nor written these rough 
but feeling verses. It was plain I had stumbled with 
sacrilegious feet into the room of the daughter of the 
house. God knows, my own heart most sharply 
punished me for my indiscretion. The thought that 
I had thus secretly pushed my way into the confidence 
of a girl so strangely situated, and the fear that she 
might somehow come to hear of it, oppressed me like 
guilt I blamed myself besides for my suspicions of 
the night before; wondered that I should ever have 
attributed those shocking cries to one of whom I now 
conceived as of a saint, spectral of mien, wasted with 
maceration, bound up in the practices of a mechanical 
devotion, and dwelling in a great isolation of soul 
with her incongruous relatives ; and as I learied on the 
balustrade of the gallery and looked down into the 
bright close of pomegranates and at the gaily dressed 



OLALLA 



»7i 



and somnolent woman, who just then stretched herself 
and delicately licked her lips as in the very sensuality 
of sloth, my mind swiftly compared the scene with 
the cold chamber looking northward on the moun- 
tains, where the daughter dwelt. 

That same afternoon, as I sat upon my knoll, I saw 
the Padre enter the gates of the residencia. The revela- 
tion of the daughter's character had struck home to my 
fancy, and almost blotted out the horrors of the night 
before; but at sight of this worthy man the memory 
revived. I descended, then, from the knoll, and making 
a circuit among the woods, posted myself by the way- 
side to await his passage. As soon as he appeared I 
stepped forth and introduced myself as the lodger of 
the residencia. He had a very strong, honest counten- 
ance, on which it was easy to read the mingled emotions 
with which he regarded me, as a foreigner, a heretic, 
and yet one who had been wounded for the good 
cause. Of the family at the residencia he spoke with 
reserve, and yet with respect. I mentioned that I 
had not yet seen the daughter, whereupon he remarked 
that that was as it should be, and looked at me a 
little askance. Lastly, I plucked up courage to refer 
to the cries that had disturbed me in the night. He 
heard me out in silence, and then stopped and partly 
turned about, as though to mark beyond doubt that he 
was dismissing me. 

"Do you take tobacco powder?" said he, offering 
his snuff-box; and then, when I had refused, "I am 
an old man," he added, "and I may be allowed to 
remind you that you are a guest." 

"I have, then, your authority," I returned, firmly 



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OLALLA 



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enough, although I flushed at the implied reproof, 
let things take their course, and not to interfere ? " 

He said " Yes," and with a somewhat uneasy salute 
turned and left me where I was. But he had done two 
things : he had set my conscience at rest, and he had 
awakened my delicacy. I made a great effort, once 
more dismissed the recollections of the night, and fell 
once more to brooding on my saintly poetess. At the 
same time, I could not quite forget that I had been 
locked in, and that night when Felipe brought me my 
supper I attacked him warily on both points of interest 
" I never s^e you" sister," said I casually. 
"Oh, no," said he; "she is a good, good girl," and 
his mind instantly veered to something else. 

"Your sister is pious, I suppose?" I asked in the 
next pause. 

"Oh!" he cried, joining his hands with extreme 
fervour, "a saint; it is she that keeps me up." 

"You are very fortunate," said I, "for the most of 
us, I am afraid, and myself among the number, are 
better at going down." 

"Senor,"said Felipe earnestly, "I would not say that. 
You should not tempt your angel. If one goes down, 
where is he to stop ? " 

" Why, Felipe," said I, " I had no guess you were a 
preacher, and I may say a good one; but I suppose 
that is your sister's doing ? " 

He nodded at me with round eyes. 
"Well, then," I continued, "she has doubtless re- 
proved you for your sin of cruelty ? " 

** Twelve times ! " he cried ; for this was the phrase by 
which the odd creature expressed the sense of frequency. 



OLALLA 



173 



"And I told her you had done so-^I remembered that," 
he added proudly — " and she was pleased." 

" Then, Felipe," said I, " what were those cries that 
I heard last night? for surely they were cries of some 
creature in suffering." 

" The wind," returned Felipe, looking in the fire. 

I took his hand in mine, at which, thinking it to be 
a caress, he smiled with a brightness of pleasure that 
came near disarming my resolve. But I trod the 
weakness down. " The wind," I repeated ; " and yet I 
think it was this hand," holding it up, "that had first 
locked me in." The lad shook visibly, but answered 
never a word. "Well," said I, "I am a stranger and 
a guest. It is not my part either to meddle or to 
judge in your affairs; in these you shall take your 
sister's counsel, which I cannot doubt to be excellent. 
But in so far as concerns my own I will be no man's 
prisoner, and I demand that key." Half an hour later 
my door was suddenly thrown open, and the key tossed 
ringing on the floor. 

A day or two after I came in from a walk a little 
before the point of noon. The Senora was lying 
lapped in slumber on the threshold of the recess ; the 
pigeons dozed below the eaves like snowdrifts ; the 
house was under a deep spell of noontide quiet; and 
only a wandering and gentle wind from the mountain 
stole round the galleries, rustled among the pome- 
granates, and pleasantly stirred the shadows. Some- 
thing in the stillness moved me to imitation, and I 
went very lightly across the court and up the marble 
staircase. My foot was on the topmost round, when 
a door opened, and I found myself face to face with 



^r^-^-^- 



'74 OLALLA 

Olalla. Surprise transfixed me; her loveliness struck 
to my heart ; she glowed in the deep shadow of the 
gallery, a gem of colour; her eyes took hold upon 
mine and clung there, and bound us together like the 
joimng of hands; and the moments we thus stood 
face to face, drinking each other in, were sacramental 
and the wedding of souls. I know not how long it 
was before I awoke out of a deep trance, and, hastily 
bowing, passed on into the upper stair. She did not 
move, but followed me with her great, thirsting eyes; 
and as I passed out of sight it seemed to me as if she 
paled and faded. 

In my own, room, I opened the window and looked 
out, and could not think what change had come upon 
that austere field of mountains that it should thus 
sing and shine under the lofty heaven. I had seen 
her— Olalla! And the stone crags answered Olalla! 
and the dumb, unfathomable azure answered, Olalla! 
The pale saint of my dreams had vanished for ever; 
and in her place I beheld this maiden on whom God 
had lavished the richest colours and the most exuberant 
energies of life, whom He had made active as a deer, 
slender as a reed, and in whose great eyes He had 
lighted the torches of the soul. The thrill of her 
young life, strung like a wild animal's, had entered 
into me ; the force of soul that had looked out from 
her eyes and conquered mine, mantled about my heart 
and sprang to my lips in singing. She passed through 
my veins : she was one with me. 

I will not say that this enthusiasm declined ; rather 
my soul held out in its ecstasy as in a strong castle, 
and was there besieged by cold and sorrowful considera- 



OLALLA lyj 

tions. I could not doubt but that I loved her at first 
sight, and already with a quivering ardour that was 
strange to my experience. What then was to follow? 
She was the child of an afflicted house, the Seiiora's 
daughter, the sister of Felipe; she bore it even in her 
beauty. She had the lightness and swiftness of the 
one, swift as an arrow, light as dew; like the other, 
she shone on the pale background of the worid with 
the brilliancy of flowers. I could not call by the name 
of brother that half-witted lad, nor by the name of 
mother that immovable and lovely thing of flesh, whose 
silly eyes and perpetual simper now [recurred to my 
mind like something hateful. And if I could not marry, 
what then ? She was helplessly unprotected ; her eyes,* 
in that single and long glance which had been all our 
mtercourse, had confessed a weakness equal to my 
own; but in my heart I knew her for the student of 
the cold northern chamber, and the writer of the 
sorrowful lines; and this was a knowledge to disarm a 
brute. To flee was more than I could find courage for ; 
but I registered a vow of unsleeping circumspection. 

As I turned from the window, my eyes alighted on 
the portrait. It had fallen dead, like a candle after 
sunnse; it followed me with eyes of paint. I knew 
it to be like, and marvelled at the tenacity of type in 
that declining race; but the li" :ss was swallowed 
up m difference. I remembered how it had seemed 
to me a thing unapproachable in the life, a creature 
rather of the painter's craft than of the modesty of 
nature, and I marvelled at the thought, and exulted 
in the image of Olalla. Beauty I had seen before, 
and not been charmed, and I had been often drawn to 



176 



OLALLA 



« 



women, who were not beautiful except to me; but in 
Olalla all that I desired and had not dared to imagine 
was united. 

I did not see her the next day, and my heart ached 
and my eyes longed for her, as men ng for morning. 
But the day after, when I returned, about my usual 
hour, she was once more on the gallery, and our looks 
once more met and embraced. I would have spoken, 
I would have drawn near to her; but strongly as she 
plucked at my heart, drawing me like a magnet, some- 
thing yet more imperious withheld me; and I could 
only bow and pass by ; and she, leaving my salutation 
unanswered, only followed me with her noble eyes. 

I had now her image by rote, and as I conned the 
traita in men^ory it seemed as if I read her very heart. 
She was dressed with something of her mother's co- 
quetry, and love of positive colour. Her robe, which 
I knew she must have made with her own hands, 
clung about her with a cuiming grace. After the 
fashion of that country, besides, her bodice stood 
open in the middle, in a long slit, and here, in spite 
of the poverty of the house, a gold coin, hanging by a 
ribbon, lay on her brown bosom. These were proofs, 
had any been needed, of her inborn delight in life and 
her own loveliness. On the other hand, in her eyei 
that hung upon mine, I could read depth beyond 
depth of passion and sadness, lights of poetry and 
hope, blacknesses of despair, and thoughts that were 
above the earth. It was a lovely body, but the inmate, 
the soul, was more than worthy of that lodging. 
Should I leave this incomparable flower to wither 
unseen on these rough moimtains? Should I despise 



OLALLA 177 

the great gift offered me in the eloquent silence of her 
eyes? Here was a soul immured; should I not burst 
its prison? All side considerations fell off from me; 
were she the child of Herod I swore I should make 
her mine; and that very evening I set myself, with a 
mingled sense of treachery and disgrace, to captivate 
the brother. Perhaps I read him with more favour- 
able eyes, perhaps the thought of his sister always 
summoned up the better qualities of that imperfect 
soul; but he had never seemed to be so amiable, 
and his very likeness .to Olalla, while it annoyed, yet 
softened me. 

A third day passed in vain — an empty desert of 
hours. I would not lose a chance, and loitered all 
afternoon in the court where (to give myself a coun- 
tenance) I spoke more than usual with the Senora. 
God knows it was with a most tender and sincere 
interest tliat I now studied her; and even as for 
Felipe, so now for the mother, I was conscious of a 
growing warmth of toleration. And yet I wondered. 
Even while I spoke with her, she would doze off into 
a little sleep, and presently awake again without em- 
barrassment; and this composure staggered me. And 
again, as I marked her make infinitesimal changes 
in her posture, savouring and lingering on the bodily 
pleasure of the movement, I was driven to wonder 
at this depth of passive sensuality. She lived in her 
body; and her consciousness was all sunk into and 
disseminated through her member; where it luxuri- 
ously dwelt. Lastly, I could not grow accustomed 
to ..-^r eyes. Each time jhe turned on me these 
great oeautiful and meaningless orbs, wide open to 



'78 OLALLA 

the day, but closed against human inquiry— each time 
I had occasion to observe the lively changes of her 
pupils which expanded and contracted in a breath— 
I know not what it was came over me, I can find no 
name for the mingled feeling of disappointment, annoy- 
ance, and distaste that jarred along my nerves. I tried 
her on a variety of subjects, equally in vain; and at 
last led the talk to her daughter. But even there 
she proved indifferent; said she was pretty, which (as 
with children) was her highest word o*"' commenda- 
tion, but was plainly incapable of any higher thought; 
and when I remarked that Olalla seemed silent, merely 
yawned in my face and replied that speech was of no 
great use when you had nothing to say. " People speak 
much, very miich," she added, looking at me with ex- 
panded pupils; and then again yawned, and again 
showed me a mouth that was as dainty as a toy. This 
time I took the hint, and, leaving her to her repose, 
went up into my own chamber to sit by the open 
window, looking on the hills and not beholding them, 
sunk in lustrous and deep dreams, and hearkening iil 
fancy to the note of a voice that I had never heard. 

I awoke on the fifth morning with a brightness of 
anticipation that seemed to challenge fate. I was 
sure of myself, light of heart and foot, and resolved to 
put my love incontinently to the touch of knowledge. 
It should lie no longer under the bonds of silence, a 
dumb thing, living by the eye only, like the love 'of 
beasts; but should now put on the spirit, and enter 
upon the joys of the complete human intimacy. I 
thought of it with wild hopes, like a voyager to El 
Dorado ; into that unknown and lovely country of her 



OLALLA 179 

soul, I no longer trembled to adventure. Yet when 
I did indeed encounter her, the same force of passion 
descended on me and at once submerged my mind; 
speech seemed to drop away from me like a childish 
habit; and I but drew near to her as the giddy man 
draws near to the margin of a gulf. She drew back 
from me a little as I came; but her eyes did not 
waver from mine, and these lured me forward. At 
last, when I was already within reach of her, I stopped. 
Words were denied me ; if I advanced I could but 
dasp her to my heart in silence; and all that was 
sane in me, all that was still unconquered, revolted 
against the thought of such an accost. So we stood 
for a second, all our life in our eyes, exchanging 
salvos of attraction and yet each resisting; and then, 
with a great effort of the will, and conscious at the 
same time of a sudden bitterness of disappointment, 
I turned and went away in the same silence. 

What power lay upon me that I could not speak? 
And she, why was she also silent? Why did she 
draw away before me dumbly, with fascinated eyes? 
Was this love? or was it a mere brute attraction, 
mindless an inevitable, like that of the magnet for 
the steel? We had never spoken, we were wholly 
strangers; and yet an influence, strong as the grasp 
of a giant, swept us silently together. On my side, 
it filled me with impatience; and yet I was sure that 
she was worthy ; I had seen her books, read her verses, 
and thus, in a sense, divined the soul of my mistress. 
But on her side, it struck me almost cold. Of me, 
she knew nothing but my bodily favour ; she was drawn 
to me as stones fall to the earth ; the laws that rule the 






»8« OLALLA 

earth conducted her, unconsenting, to my arras ; and 
I drew back at the thought of such a bridal, and began 
to be jealous for myself. It was not thus that I desired 
to be loved. And then I began to fall into a great pity 
for the girl herself. I thought how sharp must be her 
mortification, that she, the student, the recluse, Felipe's 
saintly monitress, should have thus coi .essed an over- 
weening weakness for a man with whom she had never 
exchanged a word. And at the coming of pity, all 
other thoughts were swallowed up; and I longed only 
to find and console nd reassure her; to tell her how 
wholly her love was returned on my side, ai*d how her 
choice, even if blindly made, was not unworthy. 

The next day it was glorious weather ; depth upon 
depth of blue' over-canopied the rountains; the sun 
shone wide; and the wind in the trees and the many 
falling torrents in the mountains filled the air with 
delicate and haunting music. Yet I was prostrated with 
sadness. My heart wept for the sight of Olalla, as a 
chilQ weeps for its mother. I sat down on a boulder 
on the verge of the low cliffs that bound the plateau 
to the north. Thence I looked down into the wooded 
valley of a stream, where no foot cfme. In the mood 
I was in, it was even touching to behold the place 
untenanted; it lacked Olalla; and I thought of the 
delight and glory of a life passed wholly with her in 
that strong air, and among these rugged and lovely 
surroundings, at first with a whimpering sentiment, 
and then again with such a fiery jo; that I seemed, to 
grow in strength and stature, like a Samson. 

And then suddenly I was aware of Olalla drawing 
near. She appeared out of a grove of cork-trees, and 



OLALLA 



iSi 



ame straight towards me; and I stood up ind waited. 
Slie seemed in her walking a creature of such life and 
fire and -« as amazed me ; yet she came quietly 

and slow.^ .^cr energy was in the slowness ; but for 
mimitable bccngth, I felt she wou' ' have run she 
would have flown to me. Still, as she appro ch.d, 
she kep^ her eyes lowered to the ground; and when 
she had drawn quite near, it was without one glance 
that she addressed me. At the first note of her voice 
I started. It was for this I had been waiting; this was 
the last test of my love. And lo, her enunciation was 
precise and clear, not lisping and incomplete like that 
of her family; and the voice though deeper than usual 
with women, was still both youthful an'* womanly. She 
spoke in a rich chord ; golden contralto strains mingled 
with hoarseness, as the red thread', were mingled with 
tht brown among her tresses. It was not only a voice 
that spoke to my heart directly; b'lt it spoke tc me of 
her. And yet her words immediately plunged me back 
upon despair. 

" Vou will go away," she said, " to^ay." 
Her exam, broke the bonds of my speech; I felt 
as lightened of ^ weight, or as if a spell had been dis- 
solved. I know not in what words I answered; but, 
standing before her on the cliffs, I poured out the whole 
ardour of my love, telling her that I lived upon the 
thought of her, slept only to dream of her loveliness, 
and would gladly forswear my country, my language, 
and my fnends, to Uve for ever by her side. And then 
strongly commanding myself, I changed the note; I 
reassured, I comforted her; I told her I had divinfd 
m her a pious and heroic spirit, with which I ^as 



'*• OLALLA 

worthy to sympathise, and which I longed to share 
and hghten. "Nature." I told her, "was the voice of 
God, which men disobey at peril ; and if we were thus 
dumbly drawn together, ay, even as by a miracle of 
love, It must imply a divine fitness in our souls; we 
must be made." I said-" made for one another. We 
should bemad rebels," I cried out-" mad rebels against 
God. not to obey this instinct." 

She shook her head. "You will go to-day," she 
repeated, and then with a gesture, and in a sudden, 
sharp note -"no, not to day." she cried, -to- 
morrow ! " 

But at this sign of relenting, power came in upon me 
m a tide. I stretched out my arms and called upon her 
^lame; and she leaped to me and clung to me. The 
mils rocked about us, the earth quailed ; a shock as of 
a blow went through me and left me blind and dizzy. 
Arid the next moment she had thrust me back, broken 
rudely from my arms, and fled with the speed of a deer 
among the cork-trees, 

I stood and shouted to the mountains; I turned 

and went back towards the residencia, walking upon 

air. She sent me away, and ye. I had but to call upon 

her name and she came to me. These were but the 

weaknesses of girls, from which even she, the strangest 

of her sex, was not exempted. Go? Not I, Olalla— 

O, not I, Olalla. mj Olalla! A bird sang near by 

and m that season, birds were rare. It bade me be 

of good cheer. And once more the whole countenance 

of nature, from the ponderous and stable mountains 

down to the lightest leaf and the smallest darting fly 

in the shadow of the groves, ' 



-gan 



before 



me = 



OLALLA ,3^ 

and to put on the lineaments of life and wear a face 
of awful joy. The sunshine s..uck upon the hills, 
strong as a hammer on the anvil, and the hills shook : 
the earth, uncer that vigorous insolation, yielded up 
heady scents; the woods smouldered in the bla.e I 
felt the thrill of travail and delight run through the 
earth. Something elemental, something rude, violent 
and savage, in the love that sang in my heart, wai 
like a key to nature's secrets; and the very stones that 
«tt ed under my feet appeared alive and friendly. 
Olallal Her touch had quickened, and renewed, and 
strung me up to the old pitch of concert with the ru^^ged 
earth, to a swelling of the soul that men learn t forget 
m their polite assemblies. Love burned in me like 
rage; tenderness waxed fierce; I hated. I adored I 
pitied I revered her with ecstasy. She seemed the link 
that bound me in with dead things on the one hand 
and with our pure and pitying God upon the other- 
a thing brutal and di/ine, and akin at once to the 
innocence and to the unbridled forces of the earth 

My head thus reeling, I came into the courtyard 
of the residencia, and the sight of the mother struck 
me like a revelation. She sat there, all sloth and 
contentment blinking under the strong sunshine, 
branded with a passive enjoyment, a creature set quite 
apart, before whom my ardour fell away like a thing 
ashamed. I stopped a moment, and. commanding such 
shaken tones as I was able, said a word or two. She 
looked at me with her unfathomable kindness; her voice 
m reply sounded vaguely out of the realm of peace in 
which she slumbered, and there fell on my mind for 
the first time, a sense of respect for one so uniformly 



3 



'^4 - OLALLA 

mnocent and happy, and I passed on in a kind of 
wonder at myself, that I should be so much disquieted. 
On my table there lay a piece of the same yellow 
paper I had seen in the north room ; it was written on 
with pencil m the same hand, Olalla's hand, and I 
picked It up with a sudden sinking of alarm, and read. 
If you have any kindness for Olalla, if you have any 
chivalry for a creature sorely wrought, go from here 
to-day ; m pity, m honour, for the sake of Him who 
died I supplicate that you shall go." I looked at this 
awhile m mere stupidity, then I began to awaken to a 
weariness and horror of life; the sunshine darkened 
outside on the bare hills, and I began to shake like a 
man in terror. The vacancy thus suddenly opened 
in my life unmanned me Uke a physical void. It was 
not my heart, it was not my happiness, it was life 
itself that was mvolved. I could not lose her. I said 
so, and stood repeating it. And then, like one in a 
dream, I moved to the window, put forth my hand to 
open the casement, and thrust it through the pane. 
The blood spurted from my wrist; and with an inWi- 
taneous quietude and command of myself, I pressed 
my thumb on the Uttle leaping fountain and reflected 
what to do. In that empty room there was nothimj 
to my purpose; I felt, besides, that I required assis* 
ance. There shot into my mind a hope that Olalla 
herself might be my helper, and I turned and went 
downstairs, still keeping my thumb upon the wound. 

There was no sign of either Olalla or Felipe, and I 
addressed myself to the recess, whither the Sefiora had 
now drawn quite back and sat dozing close before the 
tire, for no degree of heat appeared too much for her 



OLALLA iss 

"Pardon me," said I, "if I disturb you, but I must 
apply to you for help." 

She looked up sleepily and asked me what it was, 
and with the very words I thought she drew in her 
breath with a widening of the nostrils and seemed to 
come suddenly and fully alive. 

"I have cut myself," I said, "and rather badly. 
See ! " And I held out my two hands from which the 
blood was oozing and dripping. 

Her great eyes opened wide, the pupils shrank into 
points ; a veil seemed to fall from her face, and leave 
it sharply expressive and yet inscrutable. And as I 
still stood, marvelling a little at her disturbance, she 
came swiftly up to me, and stooped and caught me by 
the hand ; and the next moment my hand was at her 
mouth, and she had bitten me to the bone. The pang 
of the bite, the sudden spurting of blood, and the 
monstrous horror of the act, flashed through me all in 
one, and I beat her back; and she sprang at me again 
and again, with bestial cries, cries that I recognised, 
such cries as had awakened me on the night of the 
high wind. Her strength was like that of madness; 
mine was rapidly ebbing with the loss of blood; my 
mind besides was whiriing with the abhorrent strange- 
ness of the onslaught, and I was already forced against 
the wall, when Olalla ran betwixt us, and Felipe, follow- 
ing at a bound, pinned down his mother on the floor. 

A trance-like weakness fell upon me; I saw, heard, 
and felt, but I was incapable of movement. I heard 
the struggle roll to and fro upon the floor, the yells of 
that catamount ringing up to Heaven as she strove to 
reach me. I felt Olalla clasp me in her arms, her 



'** OLALLA 

hair falling on my face, wd. mth the stren-th of . 

man. raise and half d-ag, half carry me upsS„ i«o 

•nH , r ■'^'' ""^ ''""" '0 *« doO^ »d lock it, 

«d Stand an .nstant Ustening to the savage cries th« 

aZ i t h"" r '" '"'"' ""=' "'"^'"^ "P "^ "an^ 

.rj^ h do"e^^e sZ"; Thr "" ■"°"™"^ o'^ 
came to h.r ,! ^°'' "''^ "°' ""fds that 

came to her they were sounds more beautiful than 
speech, mfinitely touching, infimtely tender; and y« 

wounded me hke a sword, a thought, like a worm "n. 

flower profaned the holiness of my love. Yes hev 

were beautiful sounds, and they were inspired ^^u^ 

tenderness , but was their beauty human ? 

All day I lay there. For a long time the cries of 
that nameless female thing, as she struggled witlThw 
half-wmed whelp, resounded through th^ house id 
pierced me with despairing sorrow Ld disgust T^ev 
were the death^ry of my love; my love was^murde!^' 

t was not only dead, but an offence to me; an^et' 
*mk « I pleased, feel as I must, it still swell'ed witS 
me hke a storm of sweetness, and my heart melted 

s'ain that ' "PO^O'^"^ ">'s savage and b'estia! 
stram that ran not only through the whole behaviour 
^ her fanuly. but found a place in the very foundati^^ 
and story of our love-though it appalled, though it 
shocked and sickened me. was yet not o pow« .^ 
break the knot of my infatuation. !< er to 

When the cries had ceased, there came a scmping 



OLALLA iSj 

at the door, by which I knew Felipe was without ; and 
Olalla went and spoke to him— I know not what 
With that exception, she stayed close beside me, now 
kneeling by my bed and fervently praying, now sitting 
with her eyes upon mine. So then, for these six hours 
I drank in her beauty, and silently perused the story in 
her face. I saw the golden coin hover on her breaths ; 
I saw her eyes darken and brighten, and still speak no 
language but that of an unfathomable kindness ; I saw 
the faultless face, and, through the robe, the lines of 
the faultless body. Night came at last, and in the 
growing darkness of the chamber, the sight of her 
slowly melted ; but even then the touch of her smooth 
hand lingered in mine and talked with me. To lie thus 
in deadly weakness and drink in the traits of the be- 
loved, is to reawake cO love from whatever shock of 
disillusion. I reasoned with myself; and I shut my 
eyes on horrors, and again I was very bold to accept 
the worst. What mattered it, if that imperious senti- 
ment survived ; if her eyes still beckoned and attached 
me; if now, even as before, every fibre of my dull body 
yearned and turned to her? Late on in the night 

some strength revived in me, and I spoke : 

"Olalla," I said, "nothing matters; I ask nothing; 
I am content ; I love you." 

She knelt down awhile and prayed, and I devoutly 
respected her devotions. The moon had begun to 
shine in upon one side of each of the three windows, 
and make a misty clearness in the room, by which I 
saw her indistinctly. When she rearose she made the 
sign of the cross. 

"It is for me to speak," she said, "and for you to 



.m 



'" " OLALLA 

li«tOL I know ; you can but guess. I p„,ed how I 
prayed for you to leave this place. I be^^To? ylu 
«d I Inow you would have granted n,e even thL « 
if not, O let me think so I » ' 

"I love you," I said. 

aft^'^r^nf ''°" ''"' "™"^ '" "" "orfl." she said; 
after a pause, "you are a man and wise- and T 11 

but a child. Forgive me, ifl seem to t^ch who r 
« .gnonrnt as the trees of the mountab J ^h^ 

tney seue the laws, they conceive the dignitv of th, 

memory. It „ we who sit at home with evil wh^ 
"member, I think, and are warned and pi^ Go 

Hfe as much ^"^ P'^^'' °f '">•" "«"><»y^ 

a^fe as much my own, as fl«, .hich I lead in «Us 

"I love you," I said once more; and reaching out 
my weak hand, took hers, and carried it to my If ^d 
fassed .t Nor did she resist, but winced a li, le ^d 

Srontrr^-*-r::£ 

Uf. Itonr/mr^/^^u tif;„u7 'r'f "" 
fnin*»? T* ;„ • , /""^ " i!> yours, iiut is it even 



OLALLA ,89 

apart, an impotent prisoner, and carried about and 
deafened by a mob that I disown. This capsule, such 
as throbs against the sides of animals, knows you at a 
touch for its master; ay, it loves you! But my soul, 
does my soul? I think not; I know not, fearing to 
ask. Yet when you spoke to me your words were of 
the soul; it is of the soul that you ask— it is only from 
the soul that you world take me." 

"Olalla," 1 said, "the soul and the body are one 
and mostly so in love. What the body chooses, the 
soul loves; where the body clings, the soul cleaves; 
body for body, soul to soul, they come together at God's 
signal; and the lower part (if we can call aught low) is 
only the footstool and foundation of the highest." 

"Have you," she said, "seen the portraits in the 
house of my fathers? Have you looked at my mother 
or at Felipe? Have your eyes never rested on that 
picture that hangs by your bed? She who jat for it 
died ages ago; and she did evil in her life. But, look 
agam : there is my hand to the least line, there are my 
eyes and my hair. What is mine, then, and what am 
I? If not a curve in this poor body of mine (which 
you love, and for the sake of which you dotingly dream 
that you love me) not a gesture that I can frame, not 
a tone of my voice, not any look from my eyes, no 
not even now when I speak to him I love, but has 
belonged to others? Others, ages dead, have wooed 
other men with my eyes; other men have heard the 
pleading of the same voice that now sounds in your 
ears. The hands of the dead are in my bosom ; they 
move me, they pluck me, they guide me; I am a 
puppet at their command; and I but reinform features 



I ■ ■ 



■»• OI^LLA 

«.d attribute th., have long been laid «,ide from ev,l 

m the quiet of the grave. I, it me you love friend? 

Lf anT *" "■"'' "■'' ^"^ «^' who d«s nt 
sdfP o?fH^"°' """" '"' *« '«« P°"i°n of her- 
self ? or the stream of which she is a transitory eddy 

s^TL,! , ' "P"" "• '*= ""« "Pon the 

sea^ mdmdual succeeds to individual, mocked with a 
semblance of self-control, but they are nothing We 
speak of the soul, but the soul is in the race " 

You fret against the common law," I said. "You 
;^ agamst the voice of God, which He has made °^ 
wuming tp convmce, so imperious to command. Hear 
^ and how ,t speaks between usl Your hand ciL« 

LenS i'^which"" ''''" " "^ '»-'>- '"a unk^oT 
elements of which we are compounded awak** ^r.^ 

t^ether at a look; the clay ^f the «>:.? rLem.^ 
Its mdepend.nt life and yearns to join us; we «e 
dmwn together as the stars are turned abou in^paT^ 
or as the tides ebb and flow, by things older and 3^ 
than we ourselves." greaitr 

f«h'^'-',*r'''^' ""^ "^ I ^y '» you? Mv 

father, eight hundred years ago, ruled all this nro^ 
vmce: ..ey were wise, great, cunning, and cruel th^ 
were a picked race of the Spanish, their flags led S 
«r; the kmg .ailed them his cousin; the peopk 
when the rope wa., slung for them or ;hen they l! 

n name P "f '"'"^ ^'"*"«' ""^^P"- ^ 
their name. Presently a change began. Man h.= 

nsen; f he has sprung from the brutes.'^ can d^ce^ 
•gam to the same level. The breath of wearinlrkw 



OLALLA c ,5, 

on their humanity and the cords relaxed; they began 
to go down; their minds fell on sleep, their passions 
awoke m gusts, heady and senseless like the wind in 
the gutters of the mountains; beauty was still handed 
down, but no longer the guiding wit nor the human 
heart; the seed passed on, it was wrapped in flesh, the 
flesh covered the bones, but they were the bones and 
the flesh of brutes, and their mind was as the mind 
of flies. I speak to you as I dare; but you have seen 
for yourself how the wheel has gone backward with 
my doomed race. I stand, as it were, upon a Httle 
nsmg ground in this desperate descent, and see both 
before and behmd, both what we have lost and to what 
we are condemned to go farther downward. And shall 
I~I that dwell apart in the house of the dead my 
body, loathing its ways— shall I repeat the spell ? Shall 
I bmd another spirit, reluctant as my ovn, into this 
bewitched and tempest-broken tenement that I now 
suffer in? Shall I hand down this cursed vessel of 
humanity, charge it with fresh life as with fresh poison 
and dash it, like a fire, in the faces of posterity? But 
my vow has been given; the race shall cease from off 
the earth. At this hour my brother is making ready 
his foot will soon be on the stair; and you will go with 
him and pass out of my sight for ever. Think of me 
sometimes as one to whom the lesson of life was very 
harshly told, but who heard it with courage; as one 
who loved you indeed, but who hated herself so deeply 
that her love was hateful to her; as one who sent you 
away and yet would have longed to keep you for ever- 
who had no dearer hope than to forget you, and no 
greater fear than to be forgotten." 



«9« OLALLA 

She had drawn towards the door as «he spoke, her 
nch voice sounding softer and farther away; and with 
the last word she was gone, and I lay alone in the 
moonlit chamber. What I might have done had not 
I lam bound by my extreme weakness, I know not • 
but as it was there fell upon me a great .nd blank 
despair. It was not long before there shone in at the 
door the ruddy glimmer of a lantern, and Felipe coming, 
charged me without a word upon his shoulders, and 
earned me down to the great gate, where the cart was 
waiting. In the moonlight the hills stood out sharply 
as If they were of cardboard; on the glimmering sur- 
face of t^e plateau, a^d from among the low trees 
which swung together and sparkled in the wind, the 
great black cube of the residencia stood out buikily 
Its mass only broken by three dimly lighted windows 
m the northern front above the gate. They were 
Olallas wmdowj, and as the cart jolted onwards I kept 
my eyes fixed upon them till, where the road dipped 
into a valley, they were lost to my view for ever. Felipe 
walked in silence beside the shafts, but from time to 
time he .vould check the mule and seem to look back 
upon me; and at length drew quite near and laid his 
hand upon my head. There was such kindness in the 
touch, and such a simplicity, as of the brutes, that 
tears broke from me like the bursting of an artery 

" Felipe,'* I said, "take me where they will ask no 
questions." 

He said never a word, but he iurned his mule about 
end for end, retraced some part of the way we had 
gone, and, striking into another path, led me to the 
mountam village, which was, as we say in Scotland, the 



OLALLA , 

lurkton of that thinly peopled district Some braken 

rZ.'ni'^' '" •"' ■"'"" °' "« -^y breaking ov" 
Ho,^^' 1 ' "" "°PP'"8. of arm, that helped m. 
down, of a b«-e room into which I wa, camed,^d o- 
a swoon that fell upon me like sleep. 

The next day and the days following the old Driest 
wa, often at ^y ,;<,, ^., ^is snuff-L S ^^^^ 
book, and after a while, when I began to nick u^ 
strength, he told me that I was now'^n a CZ 
to recovery, and must as soon as possible hurry mj 
.trsnu,^ "hereupon ™thou. naming any rea»^," 
took snuff am looked at me sideways. I did not 

•■sIT-rdT"; '."""."^ ■""" "»- '«" oX 

HIT, said I, "you know that I do not ask in wanf^^. 
ness. What of that family ? » ™^°'*' 

a ^L^L'''"' """'" ri ""^°^^«*te; that it seemed 
a dedmmg race, and that thoy were very poor and 
had been much neglected 

yourfdJ she •" "'" '/"'• "'''^"'^^' <^°"btless. to 
women/' ^""'"""''^ '"^ ^'^^ ^^^°"d ^^^ "se of 

the'fwr ^K^ '^i!"^ ' " '^' ^'"°"'^ " well-informed. But 
the family has been neglected." 

"The mother?" I queried. 

"Yes the mother too." said the Padre, taking snuff 
But Felipe is a well-intentioned lad." 
"The mother is odd?" I asked. 
"Very odd," replied the priest. 

You mus know more of my affairs than you allow 

^o:nr wii7 "' r:T ^° '^ ^^^^^^^^ - --y 

grounds. Will you not be frank with m^ ' " 

N 






194 OLALLA 

" My son," said the old gentleman, " I will be very 
frank with you on matters within my competence; on 
those of which I know nothing it does not require 
much discretion to be silent I will not fence with 
you, I take your meaning perfectly; and what can I 
say, btit that we are all in God's hands, and that His 
ways are not as our ways? I have even advised with 
my superiors in the church, but they, too, were dumb. 
It is a great mystery." 

" Is she mad ? " I asked. 

" I will answer you according to my belief. She is 
not," returned the Padre, " or she was not. When she 
was young — God help me, I fear I r.eglected that wild 
lamb — she was surely sane; and yet, although it did 
not run to such heights, the same strain was already 
notable; it had been so before her in her father, ay, 
and before him, and this inclined me, perhaps, to think 
too lightly of it. But these *hings go on growing, not 
only in the individual but in tne race." 

" When she was young," I began, and my voice failed 
me for a moment, and it was only with a great effort 
that I was able to add, " was she like Olalla ? " 

"Now God forbid!" exclaimed the Padre. "God 
forbid that any man should think so slightingly of my 
favourite penitent. No, no; the Seriorita (but for her 
beauty, which I wish most honestly she had less of) 
has not a hair's resemblance to what her mother was 
at the same age. I could not bear to have you think 
so; though. Heaven knows, it were, perhaps, better 
that you should." 

At this, I raised myself in bed, and opened my 
heart to the old man ; telling him of our love and of 



OLALLA ,95 

her decision, owning my own horrors, my own passing 
fancies, but telling him that these were at an end; 
and with something more than a purely formal sub-' 
mission, appealing to his judgment. 

He heard me very patiently and without surprise; 
and when I had done, he sat for some time silent.' 
Then he began: "The church," and instantly broke 
oflF again to apologise. "I had forgotten, my child, 
that you were not f. Christian," said he. " .And indeed, 
upon a point so highly unusual, even the church can 
scarce be said to have decided. But would you have 
my opinion ? The Seftorita is, in a matter of this kind, 
the best judge; I would accept her judgment." 

On the back of that he went away, nor was he 
thenceforward so assiduous in his visits; indeed, even 
when I began to get about again, he plainly feared 
and deprecated my society, not as in distaste but much 
as a man might be disposed to flee from the riddling 
sphynx. The villagers, too, avoided me; they were 
unwilling to be my guides upon the mountain. I 
thought they looked at me askance, and I made sure 
that the more superstitious crossed themselves on my 
approach. At first I iet this down to my heretical 
opinions; but it began at length to dawn upon me 
that if I was thus redoubted it was because I had 
stayed at the residencia. All men despise the savage 
notions of such peasantry; and yet I was conscious 
of a chill shadow that seemed to fall and dwell upon 
my love. It did not conquer, but I may not deny 
that it restrained my ardour. 

Some miles westward of the village there was a 
gap in the sierra, from which the eye plunged direct 



'M 



'•* OLALLA 

upon the rcsidencia; and thither it became my daily 
habu to repair. A wood crowned the .ummit; and 
just where the pathway issued from its fringes, it was 
overhung by a considerable shelf of rock, and that, in 
Its turn, was surmounted by a crucifix of the size of 
life and more than usually painful in -^.sign. This 
was my perch; thence, day after day, I ,ked down 
upon the plateau, and the great old house, and could see 
Felipe, no bigger than a fly. going to and fro about the 
garden. Sometimes mists would draw across the view 
and be broker P again by mountain winds ; sometime^ 
the plam slumb..ed below me in unbroken sunshine: it 
would sometimes be all blotted out by rain. This distant 
post, these mterrupted sights of the place where my life 
had been so strangely changed, suited the indecisicn of 
my humour. I passed whole days there, debating with 
myself the various elements of our position ; now leaning 
to the suggestions of love, now giving an ear to prudenc^ 
and in the end halting irresc 'ute between the two 

One day. as I was sitting on my rock, there came 
by that way a some vhat gaunt pea^t wrapped in a 
mantle. He was a stranger, and plainly did not know 
me even by repute; for, instead of keeping the other 
side, he drew near and sat down beside me, and we 
had soon fallen in talk. Among other things he told 
me he had been a muleteer, and in former years had 
much frequented these mountains; later on. he had 
followed the army with his mules, had realised a com- 
petence, and was now living retired with his family 

"Do you know that house?" I inquired at last 
pomting to the residencia, for I readily wearied of 
any talk that kept me from the thought of Olalla 



»97 



OLALLA 

"xJr^'n "r ^"^^' ""^ "°"«d himself. 
C.Z7 M u' '"'^' "'^ ''^^ »»^«« »hat one of my 
comrades sold h.mself to Satan ; the Virgin shield us 
from temptations! He has paid the price; he , now 
bummg m the reddest place in Hell ! " 

A fear came upon me; I could answer nothing, 
and presently the man resumed as if tl I u 
«»Vm»»i,-.- j i. ^ ^^uiucu, as 11 to himself: 

dl™ TK ' ° "'• ' '"""' '•• I have passed it, 
doon. Th-re «, ,„ow upon the pass, the wind w„ 
dnvng .,; sure enough .here wa, d«,h ,ha „! 

hta^o ,. ^^ ? '"' "■= ='™' Seftor, and dragged 

^pe^^ .o**.o V r"^":"" '■'■"• "^ "" >■« '-«> -d 

respected, to go forth with me : I went nn ,«„ i 
before h™ i„ .he snow; and I c^uL^ he .r^oT^' 
by my entreaty And jus. then she came ouToniS 
ganery, and called hin, hy hi. na„,e; and he Z^ 

«d «n,Ung on h.n. to come back. I cried out aloud 

1 K ?? i'" '")' """ "'""" bim, but he out 
me by «,d left n,e alone. He had mad^ his choice 
God help us. I would pray for him, but to what end? 
there are sm, that not even the Pope can loose." 

"Nav God f "'•''.' "•'"^'' ""''« ^=""« of him?" 
Nay, God knows," said the muleteer. " If all be 

^.Hat^we^hear,hisendwas,ikehissi„,ath,^;i^ 

I' Do you mean that he was killed ? " I asked 
Sure enough, he was killed." returned the man 
"But how? Ay, how? But these are things thTti; 
IS sm to speak of." ^ ^ " 

"The people of that house . . ." i began. 



'5^ OLALLA 

But he intc-uDted m* «,'*u 
"The people?" he^ned-^^l. ' 7T "'"''""'• 
neither men nor w^men iJTl^'^^'^ "^"^ "^ 
What? have you livThl , ' '"'"'' "' S^"*""'! 

And here he^^^'CX °^- rrXh'^^"'"; 
as if even the fowls nf fh^ ^. ° whispered, 

heaj. and heen-Scrrror'^'-' •"-<"- 

onS CldTedX-rneTed-w"- ' 7^ 
^in by village ignorance a^d upettiZ "T"^ "P 
nearly as ancient as the race of ^t?' °' """'» 
the application that ap^alkd °e.°X i' 'T "*« 
he said, the church would havrK \ ' °'^ ^^ 
"f basilislts; but thrall 7 the 4„rr :■"'""' 
shortened; his friend Miguel had iT "^ 

by the hands of „,en, afd le'r^.o'T, ""P™*'" 
judgment of an offended God Ti, "'^ '"*' 

it should be so no lore The L™ '"°"«' ""' 
age; he was even bewitched hta elf tutT '""' " 
h. floe, were now awake to thTo^^er'^'^and 
some day— ay, and before lonr th. ,^"' ""<» 
house should go up to h"av« ' """'^ °' *" 

He left me filled with hornr and fear wk- .. 

inhabitants of thj ^^dtr '^'^^t TT^ 
me ; for, while I wa.; ^fn k ° ^^^'^^ ^or 

veiled figure of a' wZ " L^ ^^f ^ ^ t"'" •"« 
pathway. No veil could decdvf T '."P *' 

every line and every movem «! rL'"""T°"' ^ 
and keeping hidden behind TcomerT'th ^'t"^' 
suffered her to gain the summit. Zl iV^:: Zll 



OLALLA 
She knew me and nausi^H k.,* j-j '^^ 

ren,ai„ed .lent; anT^f ^ ^ t To" " = '' '°°- 
ga« upon .^^.h „«,„ „,, .p,3,i::f J° -- '.- .0 

asked of you. And ^ou tfflVa; 'r /:; "' '"' ' "" 
"-t every day heaps up "he trfl „f ^ V™ '"'°"' 
on your head, but on ou'L? A^ ° f"' ""' °"'^ 

:t:pr:r:; :-/--- --"^^^^^^^^^^^^^ 

l4re^trt.'r.;r----|e.and 
to day. this very hour, bu, no.TloLe " ""^^ '° «° 

She stepped aside and knelt j„ 
crucifix to pray, and I stnoX I .°''" *'''°'^ ">« 
and now at fhe obi J, „f k "!f '°°''''' "»" « "er 
Hving fignre of Ve^Ltl ^d r^ T h" ^ 

hilk. Presem I 0.» .» ' '^'"" '^' ™"™' of 'he 

™sed her%s;Cs'.r,::nr;i.^^^^^^^ -• 

Shaft of the crucifiv i^^i, T ^ "^ ^^"^ on the 

-rowfu, coun^rl'^e ^' '"'°" "^ '^"' ' P^'« -<- 

"The pZlys";L':;'„T2H*''-"°^''" ^''' -">• 

for a „„„ent with 1 "" ^T.";."" """^ "P 
"■c Man of Sorrows wfare ^f . ' ""= '"« <" 
">o irrheritors of sin; wIUT. t^^ ^' .^"^ "— 
past which was not ours; there is ^T J f""" * 
-n in nre-a sparkie of'the^yr ^L^Hir^^ 



300 



OLALLA 



must endure for a little while, until morning returns 
bringing peace Suffer me to pass on upon'my way 
alone; it ,s thus that I shall be least lonely, count^ 
mg for my friend Him who is the friend of all the 
distressed; it is thus that I shall be the most happy 
having taken my farewell of earthly happiness, and 
wilhngly accepted sorrow for my portion '' 

I looked at the face of the crucifix, and, though I 

was no fnend to images, and despised that imi^tive 

and grimacing art of which it was a rude example, 

some sense of what the thing implied was carried 

home to my intelligence. The face looked down upon 

me with a painful and deadly contraction; but the 

rays of a jglory encircled it, and reminded me that 

the sacrifice was voluntary. It stood there, crowning 

the rock, as It still stands on so many highway sides! 

vainly preaching to passers-by, an emblem of sad and 

noble truths; that pleasure is not an end, but an 

accident; that pain is the choice of the magnanimous; 

that It IS best to suffer all things and do well. I 

turned and went down the mountain in silence; and 

when I looked back for the last time before the wood 

closed about my path, I saw Olalla still leaning on the 

crucifix. 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 



CHAPTER I 

BY THE DYING MOUNTEBANK 

They had sent for the doaor from Bourron before 
SIX About eight some villagers came round for the 
performance a, were told how matters stood. It 
seemed a hberty for a mountebank to fall ill like real 
people, and they made off again in dudgeon. By ten 
Madame Tentaillon was gravely alarmed, and had sent 
down the street for Doctor Desprez. 

The Doctor was at work over his manuscripts in 
oiie corner of the little dining-room, and his wife was 

^rivTd'''^'' ^'^ '" ^'''^''' ''^'" '^^ messenger 

"Sapristi!" said the Doctor, "you should have sent 
Zr!^"^ 1 ^' ^"' " '"^^ ^^^ ^"^^y-" And he 

^ct """'" " '' ""' " '" ^"PP^" ^"^ 
The inn was not thirty yards away, but the messenger 
did no stop ther.; he went in at one door and out 
by another mto the court, and then led the way by a 
flight of steps beside the stable, to the loft where the 
mountebank lay sick. If Doctor Desprez were to live 
a thousand years, he would never forget his arrival 



2oa THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

in that room ; for not only was the scene picturesque, 
but the moment made a date in his existence. We 
reckon our lives, I hardly know why, from the date 
of our firi^: sorry appearance in society, as if from a 
first humiliation ; for no actor can come upon the 
stage with a worse grace. Not to go further back, 
which would be judged too curious, there are subse- 
quently manv moving and decisive accidents in the 
lives of all, which would make as logical a period as 
this of birth. And here, for instance, Doctor Desprez, 
a man past forty, who had made what is called a 
failure in life, and was moreover married, found him- 
self at a neyr point of departure when he opened the 
door of the loft above Tentaillon's stable. 

It was a large place, lighted only by a single candle 
set upon the floor. The mountebank lay on his back 
upon a pallet ; a large man, with a Quixotic nose 
inflamed with drinking. Madame Tentaillon stooped 
over him, applying a hot water and mustard embroca- 
tion to his feet; and on a chair close by sat a little 
fellow of eleven or twelve, with his feet dangling. 
These three were the only occupants, except the 
shadows. But the shadows were a company in them- 
selves; the extent of the room exaggerated them to 
a gigantic size, and from the low position of the candle 
the light struck upwards and produced deformed fore- 
shortenings. The mountebank's profile was enlarged 
upon the wall in caricature, and it was strange to see 
his nose shorten and lengthen as the flame was blown 
about by draughts. As for Madame Tentaillon, her 
shadow was no more than a gross hump of shoulders, 
with now and again a hemisphere of head. The chair 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 203 

legs were spindled out as long as stilts, and the boy 
sat perched atop of them, like a cloud, in the comer 
of the roof. 

It was the boy who took the Doctor's fancy. He 
had a great arched skull, the forehead and the hands 
of a musician, and a pair of haunting eyes. It was 
not merely that these eyes were large, or steady, or 
the softest ruddy brown. There was a look In them, 
besides, which thrilled the Doctor, and made him 
half uneasy. He was sure he had seen such a look 
before, and yet he could not remember how or where. 
It was as if this boy, who was quite a stranger to 
him, had the ey< . of an old friend or an old enemy. 
And the boy would give him no peace ; he seemed 
profoundly indifferent to what was going on, or rather 
abstracted from it in a superior contemplation, beating 
gently with his feet against the bars of the chair, and 
holding his hands folded on his lap. But, for all that, 
his eyes kept following the Doctor about the room 
with a thoughtful fixity of gaze. Desprez could not tell 
whether he was fascinating the boy, or the boy was 
fascinating him. He busied himself over the sick 
man: he put questions, he felt the pulse, he jested, 
he grew a little hot and swore: and still, whenever 
he looked round, there were the brown eyes waiting 
for his with the same inquiring, melancholy gaze. 

At last the Doctor hit on the solution at a leap. 
He remembered the look now. The little fellow, 
although he was as straight as a dart, had the eyes 
that go usually with a crooked back; he was not at 
all deformed, and yet a deformed person seemed to 
be looking at you from below his brows. The Doctoi 



ao4 THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 
drew a long breath, he was so much relieved to find 
a theory (for he loved theories) and to explain away 
his interest. ' 

For all that, he despatched the invalid with un- 
usual haste, and, still kneeling with one knee on the 
floor, turned a little round and looked the boy over at 
his leisure. The boy was not in the least put out. but 
looked placidly back at the Doctor. 

" Is this your father ? " asked Desprez. 

"Oh, no," returned the boy; ««my master." 

" Are you fond of him ? " continued the Doctor. 

" No, sir," said the boy. 

Madame TentaiUon and Desprez exchanged expres- 
sive glandes. *^ 

"That is bad, my man," resumed the latter, with 
a shade of sternness. "Every one should be fond of 
the dymg, or conceal their sentiments; and your 
master here is dying. Tf j have watched a bird a 
little while stealing my cherries, I have a thought of 
disappomtment when he flies away over my garden 
wall, and I see him steer for the forest and vanish. 
How much more a creature such as this, so strong, so 
astute, so nchly endowed with faculties ! When I think 
that, in a few hours, the speech will be silenced, the 
breath extmct, and even the shadow vanished from 
the wall, I who never saw him, this lady who knew 
him only as a guest, are touched with some affection " 

The boy was silent for a little, and appeared to be 
reflecting. 

" You did not know him," he replied at last. « He 
was a bad man." 

"He is a little pagan," said the landlady. "For 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD ,05 

that matter, they are all the same, these mountebanks, 
tumb e«. artists, and what not. They have no interior." 

But the Doctor was still scrutinising the little pagan, 
his eyebrows knotted and uplifted. 

"What is your name ?" he asked. 

"Jean-Marie." said the lad. 

Desprez leaped upon him with one of his sudden 
flashes of excitement, and felt his head all over from 
an ethnological point of view. 

" Celtic, Celtic ! " he said. 

" Celtic I " cried Madame Tentaillon. who had per- 
haps confounded the word with hydrocephalous. " Poor 
lad ! IS It dangerous ? " 

" That depends." returned the Doctor grimly. And 
then once more addressing the boy: "And what do 
you do for your living, Jean-Marie?" he inquired 

"I tumble," was the answer. 

J\^f\ \"":^^"^; ^^P^^t^d Desprez. "Probably 

.w / 'ur .^^'^ '^^ «"'^^' ^^d^'"^ Tentaillon, 
that tumbhng is a healthful way of life. And have 

you never done anything else but tumble?" 

"Before I learned that, I used to steal," answered 
Jean-Mane gravely. 

"Upon my word!" cried the doctor. "You are a 
mce little man for your age. Madame, when my 
coK/r^re conies from Bourron, you will communicate 
my unfavourable opinion. I leave the case in his 
hands; but of course, on any alarming symptom, 
above all if there should be a sign of rally, do nol 
hesitate to knock me up. I am a doctor no longer 
I thank God; but I have been one. Good-night! 
madame. Good sleep to you, Jean-Marie." 



4i 



ao6 THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 



CHAPTER II 



MORNING TALK 



Doctor Desprez always rose early. Before the smoke 
arose, before the first cart rattled over the bridge to 
the day's labour in the fields, he was to be found 
wandering in his garden. Now he would pick a 
bunch of grapes; now he would eat a big pear under 
the trellice; now he would draw all sorts of fancies 
on the path with the end of his cane; now he would 
go down , and watch the river running endlessly past 
the timber landing-place at which he moored his boat. 
There was no time, he used to say, for making theories 
like the early morning. "I rise earlier than any one 
else in the village," he once boasted. "It is a fair 
consequence that I know more and wish to do less 
with my knowledge." 

The Doctor was a connoisseur of sunrises, and 
loved a good theatrical effect to usher in the day. He 
had a theory of dew, by which he could predict the 
weather. Indeed, most things served him to that 
end: the sound of the bells from all the neighbouring 
villages, the smell of the forest, the visits and the 
behaviour of both birds and fishes, the look of the 
plants in his garden, the disposition of cloud, the 
colour of the light, and last, although not least, the 
arsenal of meteorological instruments in a louvre- 
boarded hutch upon the lawn. Ever since he had 
settled at Gretz, he had been growing more and more 
mto the local meteorologist, the unpaid champion of 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD ,07 
the local climate. He thought at first there was no 
place so healthful in the arrondissement. By the 
end of the second year, he protested there was none 
so wholesome in the whole department. And for 
some time before he met Jean-Marie he had been 
prepared to challenge all France and the better part 
of Europe for a rival to his chosen spot. 

"Doctor," he would say-" doctor is a foul word. 
It should not be used to ladies. It implies disease 
I remark it, as a flaw in our civilisation, that we have 
not the proper horror of disease. Now I, for my part 
have washed my hands of it; I have renounced my 
laureation; I am no doctor; I am only a worshipper 
of the true goddess Hygieia. Ah, believe me, it is 
she who has the cestusi And here, in this exiguous 
hamlet, has she placed her shrine: here she dwells 
and lavishes her gifts; here I walk with her in the 
early morning, and she shows me how strong she has 
made the peasants, how fruitful she has made the 
fields, how the trees grow up tall and comely under 
her eyes, and the fishes in the river become clean and 
agile at her presence. -Rheumatism ! » he would cry 
on some malapert interruption, "O, yes, I believe 
we do have a little rheumatism. That could hardly 
be avoided, you know, on a river. And of course 
the place stands a little low; and the meadows are 
marshy, there's no doubt. But, my dear sir, look at 
Bourron! Bourron stands high. Bourron is close 
to the forest; plenty of ozone there, you would say. 
Well, compared with Gretz, Bourron is a perfect 
shambles. 

^He morning after he had been summoned to the 






ao8 THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

dying mountebank, the Doctor visited the wharf f 
the tail of his garden, and had a long look at th*. 
running water. This he called prayer; but whether 
his adorations were addressed to the goddess Hygieia 
or some more orthodox deity, never plainly appeared. 
For he had uttered doubtful oracles, sometimes 
declaring that a river was the type of bodily health, 
sometimes extolling it as the great moral preacher, 
continually preaching peace, continuity, and diligence 
to man's tormented spirits. After he had watciied 
a mile or so of the clear water running by before his 
eyes, seen a fish or two come to the surface with a 
gleam of silver, and sufficiently admired the long 
shadows of the trees fallipc half across the river from 
the opposite bank, with itches of moving sunlight 
in between, he strolled once more up the garden and 
through his house into the street, feeling cool and 
renovated. 

The sound of his feet upon the causeway began 
the business of the day ; for the village was still sound 
asleep. The church tower looked very airy in the 
sunlight; a few birds that turned about it, seemed to 
swim in an atmosphere of more than usual rarity; 
and the Doctor, walking in long transparent shadows, 
filled his lungs amply, and proclaimed himself well 
contented with the morning. 

On one of the posts before Tentaillon's carriage 
entry he espied a little dark figure perched in a 
me»litative attitude, and immediately recognised Jean- 
Marie. 

"Aha!" he said, stopping before him humorously, 
with a hand on either knee. ** So we rise early in the 



he 



he 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 309 

morning, do we? It appears to me that we have all 
the vices of a philosopher." 

The boy got to his feet and made a grave saluta- 
tion. 

"And how is our patient?" asked Desprez. 
It appeared the patient was about the same. 
"And why do you rise early in the morning?" 
pursued 

Jean-Marie, after a long silence, professed that 
hardly knew. 

"You hardly know?" repeated Desprez. "We 
hardly know anything, my man, until we try io learn. 
Interrogate your consciousness. Come, push me this 
inquiry home. Do you like it ? " 

"Yes," said the boy slowly; "yes, I like it." 

"And why do you like it?" continued the Doctor. 
"(We are now pursuing the Socratic method.) Why 
do you like it ? " 

"It is quiet," answered Jean-Marie; "and I have 
nothing to do ; and then I feel as if I were good." 

Doctor Desprez took a seat on the post at the oppo- 
site side. Ke was beginning to take an interest in the 
talk, for the boy plainly thought before he spoke, and 
tried to answer truly. "It appears you have a taste 
for feeling good," said the Doctor. "Now, there you 
puzzle me extremely ; for I thought you said you were 
a thief; and the two are incompatible." 

" Is it very bad to steal ? " asked Jean-Marie. 

" Such is the general opinion, little boy," replied the 
Doctor. 

"No; but I mean as I stole," explained the other, 
"For I had no choice. I think it is surely right to 

o 



a 10 THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

have bread; it must be right to have bread, there 
comes so plain a want of it. And then they beat me 
cruelly if I returned with nothing," he added. " I was 
not ignorant of right and wrong; for before that I 
had been well taught by a priest, who was very kind 
to me." (The Doctor made a horrible grimace at the 
word " p'lest.") •' Bat it seemed to me, when one had 
nothing to eat and was beaten, it was a different affair. 
I would not have stolen for tartlets, I believe ; but any 
one would steal for baker's bread." 

" And so I suppose," said the Doctor, with a rising 
sneer, " you prayed God to forgive you, and explained 
the case to ^ Him at length." 

" Why, sir ? " asked Jean-Marie. " I do not see." 

" Your priest would see, however," retorted Desprez. 

" Would he ? " asked the boy, troubled for the first 
time. "I should have thought God would have 
known." 

" Eh ? " snaried the Doctor. 

"I should have thought God would have under- 
stood me," replied the other. "You do not, I see; 
but then it was God that made me think so, was it 
not?" 

"Little boy, little boy," said Dr. Desprez, "I told 
you already you had the vices of philosophy; if you 
display the virtues also, I must go. I am a student 
of the blessed laws of health, an observer of plain and 
temperate nature in her common walks ; and I cannot 
preserve my equanimity in presence of a monster. Do 
you understand ? " 

" No, sir," said the boy. 

" I will make my meaning clear to you," replied the 



»Il 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

tot, "here It .. «, l,gh,, a„d ,he„ up .„d up, tumii« 
jro.^ ohm back, right to the top of the dom^^h^t 
».Ire.dy a. blue „ « „oo„. I, „„. that T^^f^ 
colour? Doe. it not pl«.,e the heart? Weh.ve«e„ 
.. II our live., until it ha. grown in with ourfam^ 
ftought.. Now," changing hi. tone, ...„ppo« thaT 1 
to become suddenly of a Uve and fiery aXr, like the 
coteur of clear coal., and growing .carle. to;ardt Z 
top-I do not tty « would be any the lew beautifiil • 
but would you like it a. well ? » =«uhiui , 

"I .uppce not,- answered Jean-Marie. 

«iZf^'^ "^i'*' ''°"'" "'"™«' *= ^"" ""-ghly. 

lit iJt! ';?'! P~P''- •"d yo" "« the mo,, curiou. 
little boy in all the world." 

Jean-Marie seemed to ponder for a while, and then 
he raised his head again and looked over at the Doctor 
with an air of candid inquiry. '• But are not you a verv 
ou: CIS gentieuan?" he asked. 

The Doctor threw away his stick, bounded on the 
boy clasped him to his bosom, and kissed him on 
both cheeks. '« Admirable, admirable imp ! " he cried 
AVhat a morning, what an hour for a theorist of 

'T'^rL.'l^'" '' T?"'^' apostrophising heaven, 
I did not know such boys existed; I was ignorant 
they made them so; I had doubted of my race; and 
nowl It is hke," he added, picking up his stick, ««l^e 
a lovers meeting. I have bruised my favourite staff 
in that moment of enthusiasm. The injury, however 
IS not grave." He caught the boy looking at himin 
obvious wonder, embarrassment, and alarm. « Hullo < » 
said he, "why do you look at me like that? Egad, 



! , 






313 THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

I believe the boy despises me. Do you despise me, 
boy?" 

"O, no," replied Jean-Marie seriously; "only I do 
not understand." 

"You must excuse me, sir," returned the Doctor, 
with gravity ; *' I am still so young. O, hang him ! " 
he added to himself. And he took his seat again 
and observed the boy sardonically. "He has spoiled 
the quiet of my morning," thought he. "I shall be 
nervous all day, and have a febricule when I digest. Let 
me compose myself." And so he dismissed his pre- 
occupations by an effort of the will which he had long 
practised, and let his soul roam abroad in the con- 
templation of the morning. He inhaled the air, tasting 
it critically as a connoisseur tastes a vintage, and pro- 
longing the expiration with hygienic gusto. He counted 
the little flecks of cloud along the sky. He followed 
the movements of the birds round the church tower 
— making long sweeps, hanging poised, or turning airy 
somersaults in fancy, and beating the wind with ima- 
ginary pinions. And in this way he regained peace 
of mind and animal composure, conscious of his limbs, 
conscious of the sight of his eyes, conscious that the air 
had a cool taste, like a fruit, at the top of his throat ; 
and at last, in complete abstraction, he began to sing. 
The Doctor had but one air — " Malbrouck s'en va-t-en 
guerre ; " even with that he was on terms of mere 
politeness ; and his musical exploits were always reserved 
for moments when he was alone and entirely happy. 

He was recalled to earth rudely by a pained ex- 
pression on the boy's face. "What do you think of 
my singing?" he inquired, stopping in the middle of 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD arj 

a note ; and then, after he had waited some little while 
and received no answer, "What do you think of my 
singing ? " he repeated imperiously. 

" I do not like it," faltered Jean-Marie. 

" Oh, come ! " cried the Doctor. " Pa iihW you are 
a performer yourself? " 

" I sing better than that," replied the boy. 

The Doctor eyed him for some seconds in stupe- 
faction. He was aware that he was angry, and blushed 
for himself in consequence, which made him angrier. 
" If this is how you address your master ! " he said at 
last, with a shrug and a flourish of his arms. 

"I do not speak to him at all," returned the boy 
"I do not like him." 

"Then you like me?" snapped Doctor Desprez, with 
unusual eagerness. 

" I do not know," answered Jean- Marie. 

The Doctor rose. « I shall wish you a good morn- 
ing," he said. "You are too much for me. Per- 
haps you have blood in your veins, perhaps celestial 
ichor, or perhaps you circulate nothing more gross 
than respirable air; but of one thing I am inexpugn- 
ably assured :— that you are no human being. No, 
boy"— shaking his stick at him— "you are not a humail 
being. Write, write it in your memory— 'I am not 
a human being— I have no pretension to be a human 
beir ■— I am a dive, a dream, an angel, an acrostic, 
an illusion— what you please, but not a human being.' 
And so accept my humble salutations and farewell ! " 

And with that the Doctor made off along the street 
in some emotion, and the boy stood, mentally gaping, 
where he left him. ^ ^ f b, 



214 THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 



CHAPTER III 



THE ADOPTION 



Madame Desprez, who answered to the Christian name 
of Anastasie, presented an agreeable type of her sex; 
exceedingly wholesome to look upon, a stout bruney 
with cool smooth cheeks, steady, dark eyes, and hands 
that neither art nor nature could improve. She was 
the sort of person over whom adversity passes like a 
summer cloud ; she might, in the worst of conjunctions, 
knit her brows into one vertical furrow for a moment, 
but the next it would be gone. She had much of the 
placidity of a contented nun ; with little of her piety, 
however ; for Anastasie was of a very mundane nature, 
fond of oysters and old wine, and somewhat bold 
pleasantries, and devoted to her husband for her own 
sake rather than for his. She was imperturbably good- 
natured, but had no idea of self-sacrifice. To live in 
that pleasant old house, with a green garden behind and 
bright flowers about the window, to eat and drink of the 
best, to gossip with a neighbour for a quarter of an 
hour, never to wear stays or a dress except when she 
went to Fontainebleau shopping, to be kept in a con- 
tinual supply of racy novels, and to be married to 
Doctor Desprez and have no ground of jealousy, filled 
the cup of her nature to the brim. Those who had 
known the Doctor in bachelor days, when he had aired 
quite as many theories, but of a difTerent order, attri- 
buted his present philosophy to the study of Anastasie. 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 2x5 

It was her brute enjoyment that he rationalised and 
perhaps vainly imitated. 

Madame Desprez was an artist in the kitchen, and 
made coffee to a nicety. She had a knack of tidiness, 
with which she had infected the Doctor; everything 
was in its place; everything capable of polish shone 
gloriously; and dust was a thing banished from her 
empire. Aline, their single servant, had no other 
business in the world but to scour and burnish. So 
Doctor Desprez lived in his house lil:e a fatted calf, 
warmed and cosseted to his heart's content. 

The midday meal was excellent. There was a ripe 
melon, a fish from the river in a memorable B^amaise 
sauce, a fat fowl in a fricassee, and a dish of aspara- 
gus, followed by some fruit. The Doctor drank half 
a bottle //us one glass, the wife half a bottle minus 
the same quantity, which was a marital privilege, of 
an excellent C6te-R6tie, seven years old. Then the 
coffee was brought, and a flask of i *reuse for 
madame, for the Doctor despised and v . .ted such 
decoctions; and then Aline left the wedded pair to 
the pleasures of memory and digestion. 

"It is a very fortunate circumstance, my cherished 
one," observed the Doctor— "this coffee is adorable 
—a very fortunate circumstance upon the v.hole— 
Anastasie, I beseech you, go without that poison for 
to-day ; only one day, and you will feel the benefit, 
I pledge my reputation." 

"What is this fortunate circumstance, my friend?" 
inquired Anastasie, not heeding his protest, which was 
of daily recurrence. 

"That we have no children, my beautiful," replied 



ai6 THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

the Doctor. " I think of it more and more as the 
years go on, and with more and more gratitude 
towards the Power that dispenses such afflictions. 
Your health, my darling, my studious quiet, our little 
kitchen delicacies, how they would all have suffered, 
how they would all have been sacrificed ! And for 
what? Children are the last word of human im- 
perfection. Health flees before their face. They 
cry, my dear; they put vexatious questions; they 
demand to be fed, to be washed, to be educated, 
to have their noses blown ; and then, when the 
time comes, they break our hearts, as I break this 
piece of si^ar. A pair of professed egoists, like 
you and me, should avoid offspring, like an in- 
fidelity." 

" Indeed ! " said she ; and she laughed. " Now, 
that is like you — to take credit for the thing you 
could not help." 

•' My dear," returned the Doctor solemnly, " we 
might have adopted." 

" Never ! " cried madame. " Never, Doctor, with my 
consent. If the child were my own flesh and blood, 
I would not say no. But to take another person's in- 
discretion on my shoulders, my dear friend, I have too 
much sense." 

♦'Precisely," replied the Doctor. "We both had. 
And I am all the better pleased with our wisdom, 
because — because " He looked at her sharply. 

"Because what?" she asked, with a faint pre- 
monition of danger. 

" Because I have found the right person," said the 
Doctor firmly, " and shall adopt him this afternoon." 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 217 

Anastasie looked at him out of a mist. " You have 
lost your reason," she said; and there was a clang in 
her voice that seemed to threaten trouble. 

" Not so, my dear," he replied ; '• I retain its com- 
plete exercise. To the proof: instead of attempting 
to cloak my inconsistency, I have, by way of pre- 
paring you, thrown it into strong relief. You will 
there, I think, recognise the philosopher who has the 
ecstasy to call you wife. The fact is, I have been 
reckoning all this while without an accident. I never 
thought to find a son of my own. Now, last night, 
I found one. Do not unnecessarily alarm yourself, 
my dear; he is not a drop of blood to me that I 
know. It is his mind, darling, his mind that calls 
me fatner." 

"His mind!" she repeated with a titter between 
scorn and hysterics. " His mind, indeed ! Henri, is 
this an idiotic pleasantry, or are you mad? His 
mind! And what of m) mind?" 

" Truly," replied the Doctor with a shrug, " you have 
your finger on the hitch. He will be strikingly anti- 
pathetic to my ever beautiful Anastasie. She will 
never understand him : he will never understand her. 
You married the animal side of my nature, dear; 
and it is on the spiritual side tha'. I find my affinity 
for Jean-Marie. So much so, that, to be perfectly 
frank, I stand in some awe of him myself. You will 
easily perceive that I am announcing a calamity for 
you. Do not," he broke out in tones of real solicitude 
— "do not give way to tears after a meal, Anastasie. 
You will certainly give yourself a false digestion." 

Anastasie controlled herself. "You know how 



aiB THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 



humour you," she 
But on this point- 



said, 
» 



in all 



willing I am to 
reasonable matters. 

"My dear love," interrupted the Doctor, eager to 
prevent a refusal, " who wished to leave Paris ? Who 
made me give up cards, and the opera, and the 
boulevard, and my social relations, and all that was 
my life before I knew you ? Have I been faithful ? 
Have I been obedient ? Have I not borne my doom 
with cheerfulness? In all honesty, Anastasie, have I 
not a right to a stipulation on my side ? I have, and 
}ou know it. I stipulate my son." 

Anastasie was aware of defeat ; she struck her colours 
instantly. "'You will break my heart," she sighed. 

" Not in the least," said he. " You will feel a trifling 
inconvenience for a month, just as I did when I was 
first brought to this vile hamlet ; then your admirable 
sense and temper will prevail, and I see you already 
as content as ever, and making your husband the 
happiest of men." 

"You know I can refuse you nothing," she said, 
with a last flicker of resistance; "nothing that will 
make you truly happier. But will this? Are you 
sure, my husband? Last night, you say, you found 
him ! He may be the worst of humbugs." 

" I think not," replied the Doctor. " But do not 
suppose me so unwary as to adopt him out of hand. I 
am, I flatter myself, a finished man of the world; I 
have had all possibilities in view ; my plan is contrived 
to meet them all. I take the lad as stable boy. If 
he pilfer, if he grumble, if he desire to change, I shall 
see I was mistaken ; I shall recognise him for no son 
of mine, and send him tramping." 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 319 

" You will never do so when the time comes," said 
his wife; "I know your good heart." 

She reached out her hand to him, with a sigh ; the 
Doctor smiled as he took it and carried it to his lips ; 
he had gained his point with greater ease than he had 
dared to hope ; for perhaps the twentietn time he had 
proved the efficacy of his trusty argument, his Excalibur, 
the hint of a return to Paris. Six months in the capital, 
for a man of the Doctor's antecedents and relations, im- 
plied no less a calamity than total ruin. Anastasie had 
saved the remainder of his fortune by keeping him 
strictly in the country. The very name of Paris put 
her in a blue fear; and she would have allowed her 
husband to keep a menagerie in the back garden, let 
alone adopting a stable-boy, rather than permit the 
question of return to be discussed. 

About four of the afternoon, the mountebank rendered 
up his ghost ; he had never been conscious since his 
seizure. Doctor Desprez was present at his last passage, 
and declared the farce over. Then he took Jean-Marie 
by the shoulder and led him out into the inn garden 
where there was a convenient bench beside the river. 
Here he sat him down and made the boy place himself 
on his left. 

"Jean-Marie," he said very gravely, "this worid is 
exceedingly vast; and even France, which is only a 
small comer of it, is a great place for a little lad like 
you. Unfortunately it is full of eager, shouldering 
people moving on; and there are very few bakers' 
shops for so many eaters. Your master is dead ; you 
are not fit to gain a living by yourself; you do not 
wish to steal ? No. Your situation then is undesirable ; 



2ao THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

it is, for the moment, critical. On the other hand, 
you behold in me a man not old. though elderly 
still enjoying the youth of the heart and the in- 
telligence; a man of instruction; easily situated in 
this world's affairs; keeping a good table: — a man, 
neither as friend nor host, to be despised. I offer 
you your food and clothes, and to teach you lessons 
in the evening, which will be infinitely more to the 
purpose for a lad of your stamp than those of all the 
priests in Europe. I propose no wages, but if ever 
you take a , thought to leave me, the door shall be 
open, and I will give you a hundred francs to start 
the world upon. In return, I have an old horse and 
chaise, which you would very speedily learn to clean 
and keep in order. Do not hurry yourself to answer, 
and take it or leave it as you judge aright. Only re- 
member this, that I am no sentimentalist or charitable 
person, but a man who lives rigorously to himself; and 
that if I make the proposal, it is for my own ends — it 
is because I perceive clearly an advantage to myself. 
And now, reflect." 

"I shall be v ry glad. I do not see what else I 
can do. I thank you, sir, most kindly, and I will try 
to be useful," said the boy. 

"Thank you," said the Doctor warmly, rising at the 
same time and wiping his brow, for he had suffered 
agonies while the thing hung in the wind. A refusal, 
after the scene at noon, would have placed him 
in a ridiculous light before Anastasie. " How hot and 
heavy is the evening, to be sure ! I have always had 
a fancy to be a fish in summer, Jean-Marie, here in 
the Loing beside Gretz. I should lie under a water- 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD aai 

lily and listen to the bells, which must sound most 
delicately down lieuw. That would be a life— do you 
not think so too?" 

"Yes," said Jean-Marie. 

"Thank God you have imagination!" cried the 
Doctor, embracing the boy with his u.ua! effusive 
warmth, though it was a proceeding that seemed to 
disconcert the sufferer almost as much as if he had 
been an English schoolboy of the same age. " And 
now," he added, "I will take you to my wife." 

Madame Desprez sat in the dining-room in a cool 
wrapper. All the blinds were down, and the tile floor 
had been recently sprinkled with water ; her eyes were 
half shut, but she affected to be reading a novel as 
they entered. Though she was a bustling woman, she 
enjoyed repose between whiles and had a remarkable 
appetite for sleep. 

The Doctor went through a solemn form of intro- 
duction, adding, for the benefit of both parties, " You 
must try to like each other for my sake." 

" He is very pretty," said Anastasie. *• Will vou kiss 
me, my pretty little fellow ? " 

The Doctor was furious, and dragged her into the 
passage. "Are you a fool, Anastasie?" he said. 
"What is all this I hear about the tact of women? 
Heaven knows, I have not met with it in my experi- 
ence. You address my little philosopher as if he were 
i.n infant. He must be spoken to with more respect, 
I tell you ; he must not be kissed and Georgy-porgy'd 
like an ordinary child." 

"I only did it to please you, I am sure," replied 
Anastasie ; " but I will try to do better." 



I 



fia THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

The Doctor apologised for his warmth. " But I do 
wish him," he continued, "to feel at home among us. 
And really your conduct was so idiotic, my cherished 
one, and so utterly and distantly out of place, that a 
saint might have been pardoned a little vehemence m 
disapproval. Do, do try— if it is possible for a woman 
to understand young people— but of course it is not, 
and I waste my breath. Hold your tongue as much 
as possible at least, and observe my conduct narrowly; 
it will serve y 'or a model." 

Anastasid did as she was bidden, and considered the 
Doctor's behaviour. She observed that he embraced 
the boy three times in the course of the evening, and 
managed generally to confound . ."-i abash the little 
fellow out of speech and appetite. But she had the 
true womanly heroism in little affairs. Not only did 
she refrain from the cheap revenge of exposing the 
Doctor's errors to himself, but she did her best to 
remove their ill-effect on Jean-Marie. When Desprez 
went out for his last breath of air before retiring for 
the night, she came over to the boy's side and took 

his hand. 

"You must not be surprised nor frightened by my 
husband's manners," she said. "He is the kindest of 
men, but so clever that he is sometimes difficult to 
understand. You will soon grow used to him, and then 
you will love him, for that nobody can help. As for 
me. you may be sure, I shall try to make you happy, 
and will not bother you at all. I think we should be 
excellent friends, you and I. I am not clever, but I 
am very good-natured. WiU you give me a kiss ? " 

He held up his face, and she took him in her arms 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 223 

and then began to cry. The woman had spoken in 
complaisance; but she had warmed to her own words, 
and tenderness followed. The Doctor, entering, found 
them enlaced : he concluded that his wife was in 
fault; and he was just beginning, in an awful voice, 

"Anastasie ," when she looked up at him, smiling, 

with an upraised finger ; and he held his peace, wonder- 
ing, while she led the boy to his attic 



CHAPTER IV 



THE EDUCATION OF A PHILOSOPHER 



The installation of the adopted stable-boy was thus 
happily effected, and the wheels of life continued to 
run smoothly in the Doctor's house. Jean-Marie did 
his horse and carriage duty in the morning; some- 
times helped in the sework ; sometimes walked 
abroad with the Doctor, to drink wisdom from the 
fountain-head ; and was introduced at night to the 
sciences and the dead tongues. He retained his 
singular placidity of mind and manner; he was rarely 
in fault; but he made only a very partial progress in 
his studies, and remained much of a stranger in the 
family. 

The Doctor was a pattern of regularity. All fore- 
noon he worked on his great book, the '* Comparative 
Pharmacopoeia, or Historical Dictionary of all Medi- 
cines," which as yet consisted principally of slips of 
paper and pins. When finished, it was to fill many 
personable volumes, and to combine antiquarian in- 



i! 



a24 THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

terert with professional utility. But the Doctor was 
studious of literary graces and the picturesque; an 
anecdote, a touch of manners, a moral qualification, or 
a sounding epithet was sure to be preferred before a 
piece of science ; a little more, and he would have 
written the "Comparative Pharmacopoeia" in verse! 
The article " Mummia," for instance, was already com- 
plete, though the remainder of the work had not 
progressed beyond the letter A. It was exceedingly 
copious and entertaining, written with quaintness and 
colour, exact, erudite, a literary article; but it would 
hardly have afforded guidance to a practising physician 
of to-day. The feminine good sense of his wife had 
led her to point this out with uncompromising sincerity ; 
for the Dictionary was duly read aloud to her, betwixt 
sleep and waking, as it proceeded towards an infinitely 
distant completion; and the Doctor was a little sore 
on the subject of mummies, and sometimes resented 
an allusion with asperity. 

After the midday meal and a proper period of 
digestion, he walked, sometimes alone, sometimes ac- 
companied by Jean-Marie; for madanie would have 
preferred any hardship rather than walk. 

She was, as I have said, a very busy person, con- 
tinually occupied about material comforts, and ready 
to drop asleep over a novel the instant she was dis- 
engaged. This was the less objectionable, as she 
never snored or grew distempered in complexion when 
she slept. On the contrary, she looked the very 
picture of luxurious and appetising ease, and woke 
without a start to the perfect possession of her facul- 
ties. I am afraid she was greatly an animal, but she 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD „; 

ZZJZ ";"»"'""" "> h»v« "bout In ,hi, way, 
.he had l,Hlo ,o do m,h Jcan-Ma,!. ; bu. .he sympathy 
wh,ch had been established be.ween them on ,he ^ 
n,ght remamed unbroken; they held occasional conver- 
Mtion,, mostly on household matters; to the extreme 
dtsappotmrnem of the Ooctor, they occasionally saS 
off tt^ether to that .e,„ple of debasing superstition 
the v,lla«e church; madume and he, t„h' in ,S 
Sunday, best, drove twice a ntonth to Fontainebleau 
and returned laden with purchases; and in short 
although the Doctor still continued to regard them « 
r,econc,lablyan.,pa.hetic, their relation was a., intimate 
friendly, and confidential as their natures su/Tered 

kmdiy despised and pitied the boy. She had no 
«lm.ration for h,s class of virtues; she liked a s, lart 
pohte, forward, roguish sort of boy, cap in hand, lighl 

a itrvir'lh' '''' f' '''^ '°'""'"y' ^l»™ 
a little nce-the promise of a second Doctor Desorez 

Anditwa. her indefeasible belief that Jean-Marie™ 

IJL,^ K "^ ^ '° ""P''''" She had never 

Sti T '"""'■ '■""'= '"^"" h-'i-Sed like a 
wild bu I, denouncing the brutal bluntness of her mind 
bemoaning his own fate to be so unequally ma"ed 
;"h an ass and, what touched Anastasie'more n"a y 
-nenacmg the table china by the fury of his mU 
-.ations. But she adhered silently t^ her opinTon • 
and when Jean-Marie was sitting, stolid, blank, but no 
unhappy, over his uniinished tasks, she would snatch 

UL °ZT" " K ' °°"°^'^ '"'^"-' 80 over o 
h'-n. put her arms about his neck, lay her cheek to 



! 1 



ill 



936 THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

his, and communicate her sympathy with his distress. 
"Do not mind," she would say; "I, too, am not at 
all clever, and I can assure you that it makes no differ- 
ence in life." 

The Doctor's view was naturally different. That 
gentleman never wearied of the sound of his own 
voice, which was, to say the truth, agreeable enough 
to hear. He now had a listener, who was not so cynically 
indifferent as Anastasie, and who sometimes put him 
on his mettle by the most relevant objections. Besides, 
was he not educating the boy ? And education, philo- 
sophers are agreed, is the most philosophical of duties. 
What can be more heavenly to poor mankind than 
to have one's hobby grow into a duty to the State? 
Then, indeed, do the ways of life become ways of plea- 
santness. Never had the Doctor seen reason to be 
more content with his endowments. Philosophy flowed 
smoothly from his lips. He was so agile a dialectician 
that he could trace his nonsense, when challenged, 
back to some root in sense, and prove it to be a sort 
of flower upon his system. He slipped out of anti- 
nomies like a fish, and left his disciple marvelling at 
the rabbi's depth. 

Moreover, deep down in his heart the Doctor was dis- 
appointed with the ill-success of his more formal educa- 
tion. A boy, chosen by so acute an observer for his 
aptitude, and guided along the path of learning by so 
philosophic an instructor, was bound, by the nature 
of the universe, to make a more obvious and lasting 
advance. Now Jean-Marie was slow in all things, im- 
penetrable in others; and his power of forgetting was 
ftiUy on a level with his power to learn. Therefore 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD „, 
the Doctor cherished his peripatetic lectures, to which 

^ ^ T:i'^' ■"''^'' "' «="'""^ W^-^ed to enjoy, 
and by which he often profited. 

Many and many were the talks they had together • 
jnd health and moderation proved the' subject^o .he' 
Doctoj^s dtvaganons. To these he lovingly re'tumed. 

My system, my behefs, my medicines, are resumed in 
one phrase-to avoid excess. Blessed nature, ^2h7 
temperate nature, abhors and exterminates etess' 
Human law, m this matter, imitates at a great dist^ce 

efforts of the law. Yes, boy, we must be a law to 
!Z7 *? " °" neighbours-lex armata- arme^ 
emphabc tyrannous law. If you see a .rapute 

MT,h"""J" "«• '^^ '■'""' «■" "is box. The 
judge though in a way «i admission of disease, is less 
offensive to me than either the doctor or the prieTt 
Above aU the doctor-the doctor and the pur^teitTra h 
Md garbage of his pharmacopceia I Pure a^f^m 
he neighbourhood of a pinetum for the Lke of ft" 
aitpentine-unadulterated wine, and the reflections of 
^^phisticated spirit in the presence of the works o 

tee. Hark! there are the bells of Bourron (the 
wmd IS m the north, it will be fair). How clear and 

now easily and regularly beats the heart I Yonr un 
»ned doctor would see nothing in theirs ent 
bon,, and yet you yourself perceive they are a part rf 



338 THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

health. — Did you remember your cinchona this morn- 
ing ? Good. Cinchona also is a work of nature ; it 
is, after all, only the bark of a tree which we might 
gather for ourselves if we lived in the locality. — What 
a world is this ! Though a professed atheist, I delight 
to bear my testimony to the world. Look at the 
gratuitous remedies and pleasures that surround our 
path ! The river runs by the garden end, our bath, our 
fishpond, our natural system of drainage. There is a 
well in the fcourt which sends up sparkling water from 
the earth's very heart, clean, cool, and, with a little 
wine, most wholesome. The district is notorious for its 
salubrity ; rheumatism is the only prevalent complaint, 
and I myself have never had a touch of it. I tell you — 
and my opinion is based upon the coldest, clearest 
processes of reason — if I, If you, desired to leave this 
home of pleasures, it would be the duty, it would be 
the privilege, of our best friend to prevent us with a 
pistol bullet." 

One beautiful June day they sat upon the hill out- 
side the village. The river, as blue as heaven, shone 
here and there among the foliage. The indefatigable 
birds turned and flickered about Gretz church tower. 
A healthy wind blew from over the forest, and the 
sound of innumerable thousands of tree-tops and in- 
numerable millions on millions of green leaves was 
abroad in the air, and filled the ear with something 
between whispered speech and singing. It seemed 
as if every blade of grass must hide a cigale ; and the 
fields rang merrily with their music, jingling far and 
near as with the sleigh-bells of the fairy queen. 
From their station on the slope the eye embraced a 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 339 
large space of poplar'd plain upon the one hand, the 
waving hill-tops of the forest on the other, md Gretz 
itself in the middle, a handful of roofs. Under the 
bestriding arch of the blue heavens, the place seemed 
dwindled to a toy. It seemed incredible that people 
dwelt, and could find room to turn or air to breathe, in 
such a comer of the world. The thought came home 
to the boy, perhaps for the first time, and he gave it 
words. 
"How small it looks ! " he sighed. 
"Ay," replied the Doctor, "small enough now. Yet 
it was once a walled city; thriving, full of furred 
burgesses and men in armour, humming with affairs; 
—with tall spires, for aught that I know, and portly 
towers along the battlements. A thousand chimneys 
ceased smoking at the curfew-bell. There were gibbets 
at the gate as thick as scarecrows. In time of war, 
the assault swarmed against it with ladders, the arrows 
fell like leaves, the defenders sallied hotly over the 
drawbridge, each side uttered its cry as they plied 
their weapons. Do you know that the walls extended 
as far as the Commanderie? Tradition so reports. 
Alas, what a long way oflF is all this confusion— nothing 
left of it but my quiet words spoken in your ear— and 
the town itself shrunk to the hamlet underneath us! 
By-and-by came the English wars — you shall hear 
more of the English, a stupid people, who sometimes 
blundered into good — and Gretz was taken, sacked, 
and burned. It is the history of many towns; but 
Gretz never rose again ; it was never rebuilt ; its ruins 
were a quarry to serve the growth of rivals; and the 
stones of Gretz are now erect along the streets of 



aao THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

Nemours. It gratifies me that c'lr old house was the 
first to rise after the calamity ; when the town had come 
to an end, it inaugurated the hamlet." 

" I, too, am glad of that," said Jean-Marie. 

"It should be the temple of the humbler virtues," 
responded the Doctor with a savoury gusto. " Perhaps 
one of the reasons why I love my little hamlet as I 
do, is that we have a similar history, she and I. Have 
I told you that I was once rich ? " 

"I do not think so," answered Jean-Marie. "I do 
not think I should • ave forgotten. I am sorry you 
should have lost yom fortune." 

"Sorry?" cried the Doctor. "Why, I find I have 
scarce begun your education after all. Listen to me! 
Would you rather live in the old Gretz or in the new, 
free from the alarms of war, with the green country at 
the door, without noise, passports, the exactions of the 
soldiery, or the jangle of the curfew-bell to send us off 
to bed by sundown ? " 

" I suppose I should prefer the new," replied the boy. 

"Precisely," returned the Doctor; "so do I. And, 
in the same way, I prefer my preser.t moderate 
fortune to my former wealth. Golden mediocrity ! 
cried the adorable ancients; and I subscribe to their 
enthusiasm. Have I not good wine, good food, good 
air, the fields and the forest for my walk, a house, an 
admirable wife, a boy whom I protest I cherish like a 
son? Now, if I were still rich, I should indubitably 
make my residence in Paris — you know Paris — Paris 
and Paradise are not convertible terms. This pleasant 
noise of the wind streaming among leaves changed 
into the grinding Babel of the street, the stupid glare 



I i» 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 231 
of plaster substituted for this quiet pattern of greens 
and greys, the nerves shattered, the digestion falsified- 
picture the fall ! Already you perceive the conse 
quences; the mind is stimulated, the heart steps to a 
different measure, and the man is himself no longer 
I have passionately studied myself-the true business 
of philosophy. I know my character as the musician 
knows the ventages of his Sure. Should I return to 
Pans, I should ruin myself gambling; nay, I go 
further -I should break the heart of my Anastasie 
with infidelities." 

This was too much for Jean-Marie. That a place 
should so transform the most excellent of men tran- 
scended his belief. Paris, he protested, was even an 
agreeable place of residence. "Nor when I lived in 
that city did I feel much difference," he pleaded 

"What!" cried the Doctor. "Did you not steal 
when you were there?" 

But the boy could never be brought to see that he 
had done anything wrong when he stole. Nor, indeed, 
did the Doctor think he had; but that gentleman 
was never very scrupulous when in want of a retort 

"And now," he concluded, "do you begin to 
understand? My only friends were those who ruined 
me. Gretz has been my academy, my sanatorium, my 
heaven of mnocent pleasures. If millions are offered 
me, I wave them back : Retro, Sathanas /-Evil one be- 
gone! Fix your mind on my example; despise riches, 
avoid tb^ debasing influence of cities. Hygiene- 
hygiene and mediocrity of fortune - these be your 
■watchwords during life ! " 

The Doctor's system of hygiene strikingly coincided . 



I ! i 



23 a THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

with his tastes ; and his picture of the perfect life was 
a faithful description of the one he was leading at 
the time. But it is easy to convince a boy, whom 
you supply with all the facts for the discussion. And 
besides, there was one thing admirable in the philo- 
sophy, and that was the enthusiasm of the philosopher. 
There was never any one more vigorously determined 
to be pleased; and if he was not a great locdr'an, 
and so had no right to convince the intellect, he was 
certainly something of a poet, and had a fascination 
to seduce the heart. What he could not achieve in 
his customary humour of a radiant admiration of him- 
self and his circumstances, he sometimes effected in 
his fits of gloom. 

" Boy," he would say, " avoid me to-day. If I were 
superstitious, I should even beg for an interest in 
your prayers. I am in the black fit; the evil spirit 
of King Saul, the hag of the merchant Abudah, the 
personal devil of the mediaeval monk, is with me — is 
in me," tapping on his breast. "The vices of my 
nature are now uppermost; innocent pleasures woo 
me in vain; I long for Paris, for my wallowing in 
the mire. See," he would continue, producing a 
handful of silver, "I denude myself, I am not to be 
trusted with the price of a fare. Take it, keep it for 
me, squander it on deleterious candy, throw it in the 
deepest of the river — I will homologate your action. 
Save me from that part of myself which I disown. 
If you see me falter, do not hesitate; if necessary, 
wreck the train! I speak, of course, by a parable. 
Any extremity were better than for me to reach Pans 
alive." 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 833 
Doubtless the Doctor enjoyed these little scenes, 
as a variation in his part; they represented the 
Byronic element in the somewhat artificial poetry of 
his existence; but to the boy, though he was dimly 
aware of their theatricality, they represented more. 
The Doctor made perhaps too little, the boy pos- 
sibly too much, of the reality and gravity of these 
temptations. 

One day a great light shone for Jean-Marie. 
"Could not riches be used well?" he asked. 

"In theory, yes," replied the Doctor. "But it is 
found in experience that no one does so. All the 
world imagine they will be exceptional when they 
grow wealthy; but possession is debasing, new desires 
spring up; and the silly taste for ostentation eats out 
the heart of pleasure." 

"Then you might be better if you had less," said 
the boy. 

"Certainly not," replied the Doctor; but his voice 
quavered as he spoke. 
"Why?" demanded pitiless innocence. 
Doctor Desprez saw all the colours of the rainbow 
in a moment; the stable universe appeared to be 
about capsizing with him. " Because," said he— affect- 
ing deliberation after an obvious pause — "because I 
have formed my life for my present income. It is not 
good for men of my years to be violently dissevered 
from their habits." 

That was a sharp brush. The Doctor breathed 
hard, and fell into taciturnity for the afternoon. As 
for the boy, he was delighted with the resolution of 
his doubts; even wondered that he had not foreseen 



I- 



i: 



234 THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

the obvious and conclusive answer. His faith in the 
Doctor was a stout piece of goods. Desprez was in- 
clined to be a sheet in the wind's eye after dinner, 
especially after Rhone wine, his favourite weakness. 
He would then remark on the warmth of his feeling 
for Anastasie, and with inflamed cheeks and a loose, 
flustered smile, debate upon all soi .s of topics, and be 
feebly and indiscreetly witty. But the adopted stable- 
boy would not permit himself to entertain a doubt 
that savour^ed of ingratitude. It is quite true that a 
man may be a second father to you, and yet take 
too much to drink ; but the best natures are ever slow 
to accept such truths. 

The Doctor thoroughly possessed his heart, but 
perhaps he exaggerated his influence over his mind. 
Certainly Jean-Marie adopted some of his master's 
opinions, but I have yet to learn that he ever sur- 
rendered one of his own. Convictions existed in him 
by divine right; they were virgin, unwrought, the 
brute metal of decision. He could add others in- 
deed, but he could not put away ; neither did he care 
if they were perfectly agreed among themselves; and 
his spiritual pleasures had nothing to do with turning 
them over or justifying them in words. Words were 
with him a mere accomplishment, like dancing. When 
he was by himself, his pleasures were almost vegetable. 
He would slip into the woods towards Achferes, and sit 
in the mouth of a cave among grey birches. His soul 
stared straight out of his eyes; he did not move or 
think; sunlight, thin shadows moving in the wind, 
the edge of firs against the sky, occupied and bound 
his faculties. He was pure unity, a spirit wholly 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD ,35 

abstracted A single mood filled him. to which all 
the objects of sense contributed, as the colourof thi 
sp«:trum merge and disappear in white light. 

So while the Doctor made himself drunk with 
»rords, the adopted stable-boy bemused himself with 



CHAPTER V 

TREASURE TROVE 

The Doctor's carriage was a two-wheeled gig with 
a hood; a kind of vehicle in much favour among 
country doctors. On how many roads has one not 
seen it, a great way off between the poplars l-in how 
many village streets, tied to a gate-post! This sort 
of chariot IS affected-particularly at the trot-by a 
kmd of pitching movement to and fro across the axle, 
which well entitles it to the style of a Noddy. The 
hood descnbes a considerable arc against the land- 
scape, with a solemnly absurd effect on the contem- 
pbitive pedestrian. To ride in such a carriage camiot 
be numbered among the things that appertain to 
glory; but I have no doubt it may be useful in liver 
physSi^' '^^^°''' ^'^^^'' ''' '''^^ Popularity among 

One morning early, Jean-Marie led forth the Doctor's 
noddy, opened the gate, and mounted to the driving- 
seat. The Doctor followed, arrayed from top to ti 
m spotless hnen, armed with an immense flesh-coloured 
umbrella, and girt with a botanical case on a baldric • 



836 THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

and the equipage drove oflT smartly in a breeze of its 
own provocation. They were bound for Franchard, 
to collect plants, with an eye to the "Comparative 
Pharmacopoeia." 

A little rattling on the open roads, and they came 
to the borders of the forest and struck into an ur> 
frequented track; the noddy yawed softly over the 
sand, with an accompaniment of snapping twigs. 
There was a great, green, softly murmuring cloud of 
congregated foliage overhead. In the arcades of the 
forest the air retained the freshness of the night The 
athletic bearing of the trees, each carrying its leafy 
mountain, pleased the mind like so many statues ; and 
the lines of the trunk led the eye admiringly upward 
to where the extreme leaves sparkled in a patch of 
azure. Squirrels leaped in mid air. It was a proper 
spot for a devotee of the goddess Hygieia. 

"Have you been to Franchard, Jean-Marie?" in- 
quired the Doctor. " I fancy not." 

*' Never," replied the boy. 

" It is ruin in a gorge," continued Desprez, adopting 
his expository voice; "the ruin of a hermitage and 
chapel. History tells us much of Franchard; how 
the recluse was often slain by robbers : how he lived 
on a most insufficient diet ; ho he was expected to 
pass his days in prayer. A letter is preserved, ad- 
dressed to one of these solitaries by the superior of 
his order, full of admirable hygienic advice; bidding 
him go from his book to praying, and so back again, 
for variety's sake, and when he was weary of both to 
stroll about his garden and observe the honey bees. 
It is to this day my own system. You must often have 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD ,37 
remarked me leaving the • Pharmacopccia '- often 
even m the middle of a phrase-to come forth into 
the sun and air. I admire the writer of that letter 
ftom my heart; he was a man of thought on the 
most important subjects. But. indeed, had I lived in 
Uie Middle Ages (I am heartily glad that I did not) 
I should have been an eremite myself-if I had not 
been a professed buffoon, that is. These were the 
only philosophical lives yet open : laughter or prayer • 
sneers, we might say, and tears. Until the sun of 
the Positive arose, the wise man had to make his 
choice between these two." 
"I have been a buffoon, of course," observed Jean- 

"I cannot imagine you to have excelled in your 
profession," said the Doctor, admiring the boy's graviiy. 
"Dr ou ever laugh?" 

' ti, yes," replied the other. "I laugh often. I 
am very fond of jokes." 

"Singular being!" sa-d Desprez. "But I divagate 
(I perceive m a thousand ways that I grow old) 
Franchard was at length destroyed in the English 
wars, the same that levelled Gretz. But— here is the 
pomt-the hermits (for there were already more than 
one) had foreseen the danger and carefully concealed 
the sacrificial vessels. These vessels were of monstrous 
value, Jean-Marie-monstrous value— priceless, we may 
say, exquisitely worked, of exquisite material. And 
now, mark me, they have never been found. In the 
reign of Louis Quatorze some fellows were digging 
hard by the ruins. Suddenly-tock !-the spade hit 
upon an obstacle. Imagine the men looking one to 



Ill 



ill 



ajS THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 
another; imagine how their hearts bounded, how their 
colour came and went. It was a coffer, and in Franchard 
the place of buried treasure I They tore it open like 
famished beasts. Alas! it was not the treasure; only 
some priestly robes, which, at the touch of the eaUng 
air, fell upon themselves and instantly wasted into 
dust The perspiration of these good fellow* lunied 
cold upon them, Jean-Marie. I will pledge my repu- 
tation, if there was anything like a cutting wind, one 
or other had a pneumonia for bis trouble." 

"I should like to have seen them turning into 
dust," said Jean-Marie, "Otherwise, I should not 
have cared so greatly. ' 

"You have no imagination," cried the Doctor. 
«• Picture to yourself the scene. Dwell on the idea— a 
great treasure lying in the earth for centuries: the 
material for a giddy, copious, opulent existence not 
employed ; dresses and exquisite pictures unseen ; the 
swiftest galloping horses not stirring a hoof, arrested 
by a spell; women with the beautiful faculty of smiles, 
not smiling; cards, dice, opera singing, orchestras, 
castles, beautiful parks and gardens, big ships with a 
tower of sailcloth, all lying unborn in a coffin— and 
the stupid trees growing overhead in the sunlight, year 
after year. The thought drives one frantic" 

" It is only money," replied Jean-Marie. " It would 

do harm." 

"O, comel" cried Desprez, "that is philosophy; it 
is all very fine, but not to the point just now. And 
besides, it is not 'only money,' as you call it; there 
are works of art in the question; the vessels were 
carved. You speak like a child. You weary me ex- 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 939 

ceedingly, quoting my words out of all logical connec* 
tion, like a parroquet." 

•' And at any rate, we have nothing to do with it," 
returned the boy submissively. 

They struck the Route Ronde at that moment; 
and the sudden change to the rattling causeway com- 
bined, with the Doctor's irritation, to keep him silent 
The noddy jigged along; the trees went by, looking 
on silently, as if they had something on their minds. 
The Quadrilateral was passed; then came Franchard. 
They put up the horse at the little solitary inn, and 
went forth strolling. The gorge was dyed deeply with 
heather; the rocks and birches standing luminous in 
the sun. A great humming of bees about the flowers 
disposed Jean-Marie to sleep, and he sat down against 
a clump of heather, while the Doctor went briskly to 
and fro, with quick turns, culling his simples. 

The boy's head had fallen a little forward, his eyes 
were closed, his fingers had fallen lax about his knees, 
when a sudden cry called him to his feet It was a 
strange sound, thin and brief; it fell dead, and silence 
returned as though it had never been interrupted. He 
had not recognised the Doctor's voice ; but, as there 
was no one else in all the valley, it was plainly the 
Doctor who had given utterance to the sound. He 
looked right and left, and there was Desprez, standing 
in a niche between two boulders, and looking round 
on his adopted son with a countenance as white as 
paper. 

** A viper ! " cried Jean-Marie, running towards him. 
•• A viper I You are bitten ! " 

The Doctor came down heavily out of the cleft, 



a40 THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

and advanced in silence to meet the boy, whom he 
took roughly by the shoulder. 

" I have found it," he said, with a gasp. 

" A plant? " asked Jean-Marie. 

Desprez had a fit of unnatural gaiety, which the 
rocks took up and mimicked. " A plant ! " he repeated 
scornfully. "Well— yes— a plant. And here," he 
added suddenly, showing his right hand, which he had 
hitherto concealed behind his back— "here is one of 

the bulbs." 

Jean-Marie saw a dirty platter, coated with earth. 

« That ? " said he. " It is a plate ! " 

" It is a coach and horses," cried the Doctor. " Boy," 
he continued, growing warmer, " I plucked away a great 
pad of moss from between these boulders, and dis- 
closed a crevice ; and when I looked in, what do you 
suppose I saw ? I saw a house in Paris with a court 
and garden, I saw my wife shining with diamonds, I 
saw myself a deputy, I saw you— well, I— I Si.w your 
future," he concluded, rather feebly. " I have just dis- 
covered America," he added. 

"But what is it?" asked the boy. 

"The Treasure of Franchard," cried the Doctor; 
and, throwing his brown straw hat upon the ground, 
he whooped like an Indian and sprang upon Jean- 
Marie, whom he suffocated with embraces and bedewed 
with tears. Then he flung himself down among the 
heather and once more laughed until the valley rang. 

But the boy had now an interest of his own, a 
boy's interest. No sooner was he released from the 
Doctor's accolade than he ran to ihe boulders, sprang 
into the niche, and, thrusting his hand into the crevice. 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 241 
drew forth one after another, encrusted with the earth 
of ages, the flagons, candlesticks, and patens of the 
hermitage of Franchard. A casket came last, tightly 
shut and very heavy. 

"O, what fun! "he cried. 

But when he looked back at the Doctor, who had 
followed close behind and was silently observing, the 
words died from his lips. Desprez was once more the 
colour of ashes; his lip worked and trembled; a sort 
of bestial greed possessed him. 

•* This is childish," he said. ♦' We lose precious time. 
Back to the inn, harness the trap, and bring it to yon 
bank. Run for your life, and remember- not one 
whisper. I stay here to watch." 

Jean-Marie did as he was bid, though not without 
surprise. The noddy was brought round to the spot 
indicated ; and the two gradually transported the trea- 
sure from its place of concealment to the boot below 
the driving seat. Once it was all stored the Doctor 
recovered his gaiety. 

"I pay my grateful duties to the genius of this 
dell," he said. " O, for a live coal, a heifer, and a jar 
of country wine! I am in the vein for sacrifice, for 
a superb libation. Well, and why not? We are at 
Franchard. English pale ale is to be had— not classical, 
mdeed, but excellent. Boy, we shall drink ale." 

" But I thought it was so unwholesome," said Jean- 
Marie, '• and very dear besides." 

" Fiddle-de-dee ! " exclaimed the Doctor eailv. " To 
the inn!" ^ 

And he stepped into the noddy, tossing his head, 
witii an elastic, youthful air. The horse vas turned, 

Q 



342 THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 
and in a few seconds they I drew up beside the palings 
of the inn garden. 

"Here," said Desprez— " here, near the table, so 
that we may keep an eye upon things." 

They tied the horse, and entered the garden, the 
Doctor singing, now in fantastic high notes, now pro- 
ducii^ deep reverberations from his chest. He took 
a seat, rapped loudly on the table, assailed the waiter 
with witticisms ; and when the bottle of Bass was at 
length produced, far more charged with gas than the 
most delirious champagne, he filled out a long glassful 
of froth and pushed it over to Jean-Marie. " Drink," 
he said ; " drihk deep." 

•'I would rather not," faltered the boy, true to his 
training. 

" What ? " thundered Desprez. 

"I am afraid of it," said Jean-Marie: "my sto- 
mach " 

" Take it or leave it," interrupted Desprez fiercely ; 
" but understand it once for all — there is nothing so 
contemptible as a precisian." 

Here was a new lesson! The boy sat bemused, 
looking at the glass but not tasting it, while the Doctor 
emptied and refilled his own, at first with clouded brow, 
but gradually yielding to the sun, the heady, prickling 
beverage, and his own predisposition to be happy. 

" Once in a way," he said at last, by way of a con- 
cession to the boy's more rigorous attitude, " once in 
a way, and at so critical a moment, this ale is a nectar 
for the gods. The habit, indeed, is debasing; wine, 
the juice of the grape, is the true drink of the French- 
man, as I have often had occasion to point out ; and I 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD ,43 
do not know that I can blame you for refusin. this 

ones. I, the bottle empty? Well, we will not be 
proud; we wiU have pity on your glass." 
-J T .."^'"S done, the Doctor chafed bitterly 
while Jean-Mane fimshed his cakes. "I bum tote 
gone.- he ,a.d. looking at his watch. "Go^ %S 
how slow you eat r And yet to eat slowly^ 

'oU™."" "^'^'- "■' "^ ^^ 

His martyrdom, however, reached an end at last • 

the pair resumed their places in the buggy, and Desprez' 

le«>»g luxuriously back, announced S inie^n 0^ 

proceedmg to Fontainebleaa 
"ToFontainebleau?" repeated Jean-Marie. 

_^^My words are dways measured," said the Doctor. 

The Doctor was driven through the glades of para- 
dise; the a.r. the light, the shining leaves the ^ 
movements of a,e vehicle, seemed to fall fa *„e «^ 
hB golden meditations; with his head thro™ teck he 
d^ed a senes of sunny visions, ale and p^^sut 
dancmg in his veins. At last he spoke 

r2^ ""r" l'^^^^ '" ^™''-'" he said. "Good 
Casimjrl a fellow of the lower order of fatelli<re^ 

yet he will repay your study; his fortune is vast anH 
«ent«ly due to his own exertions. He is fte v^ 
fcltew to help us to dispose of our trinkel.Vnd uTI 
smtable house fa Paris, and manage the details of ™.t 
mstallation. Admirable Casimir, 'one of ^ 1" 
comrades, L ™ on hU advice, I may .SI ^t1 






hi 



m:<j 






f!; 



.iJfl 



a44 THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

invested my little fortune in Turkish bonds; when we 
have added these spoils of the medieval church to our 
stake in the Mahometan empire, little boy, we shall 
positively roll among doubloons, positively roll ' Beau- 
tiful forest," he cried, "farewell! Though called to 
other scenes, I will not forget thee. Thy name is 
graven in my heart. Under the influence of prosperity 
I become dithyrambic, Jean-Marie. Such is the im- 
pulse of the natural soul; such was the constitution of 
primaeval man. And I-well, I will not refuse the 
credit— I have preserved my youth like a virginity • 
another, who should have led the same snoozing' 
countryfied existence for these years, another had 
become rusted, become stereotype; but I, I praise 
my happy constitution, retain the spring unbroken 
Fresh opulence and a new sphere of duties find me 
unabated in ardour and only more mature by know- 
ledge. For this prospective change, Jean-Marie— it 
may probably hav- shocked you. Tell me now, did it 
not strike you as an inconsistency? Confess— it is 
useless to dissemble — it pained you?" 
"Yes," said the boy. 

"You see," returned the Doctor, with sublime fatuity 
"I read your thoughts! Nor am I surprised— your 
education is not yet complete; the higher duties of 
men have not been yet presented to you fully. A hint 
—till we have leisure— must suffice. Now that I am 
once more in possession of a modest competence; now 
that I have so long prepared myself in silent meditation. 
It becomes my superior duty to proceed to Paris. My 
scientific training, my undoubted command of language, 
mark me out for the service of my country. Modest^ 



THE TREASURE OF FKANCHARD ,,, 
m such a case would uc a snare if • ^ 

sophical expression. I shouM all h'lrT ^^'"°- 
must not deny his manifJ. km- "^"^- ^ ™an 

evade his obligations 1 rl k '^'''''' ^°^ ^^^^ '"« to 
be no skulkerS battTe" '' "' "^' '°^'"«'' ^ --' 

So he rattled on, copiously greasing th. • • . / 
his inconsistency with words; whHeZ K T' °^ / 
silently, his eyes fixed on th; holl hi ^°r l'^'^^^^ ' 
'ng- It was all lost eloquence „: "'""^ '''*^- 
could unsettle a belief of VT t; , ^"^^ °^ ^^^^s 

into Fontainebleau filled Jth"f'"u^ '"^ ^^ ^^°^« 
and despair. ''"^ P'^^' ^°"o^ indignation. 

In the town Jean-Marie was keot a fi . 
dnving-seat, to guard the trlV ^ f fixture on the 
^th a singular! sLtlv l '• "^^"^ '^' ^^'or, 

fluttered in and out of Lf^^^^^ °f "tanner 

with garrison officers anf!;"'r '^ ^'°°^ ^^^^^ 
the nicety of old expeSnee t ". ''^"''^ ^^^ 
from which he returns Tf ' ^^ °"^ °^ shops, 

^«Ie. a mag^ifi™. "/'?' '°^^'^ fr"'^^' real 
"logmncent piece of sillr fx^ u- 

preposterous cane for him Jf »„w , ' **' « 

newest fashion for the boy^ ^ 2 ' ^'^' °' '"= 

graph office, whence h. T' . "^ °"' °' *= 'ele- 

where three" hoXt^ i?:^^Jl't^^-- "^ 
mismg a visit on the. ^cceivea an answer pro- 

FontJneb,: 4h he^Z"^ ^^ ^'"^'^"^ P-^^ed 
good humour, "' "■" "'o™^ °f hi=i divine 



il !l' 



346 THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

in the streets of the town, where the air had been baked 
all day between white walls, it came in whiffs and pulses, 
like a distant music. Half-way home, the last gold 
flicker vanished from a great oak upon the left; and 
when they came forth beyond the borders of the wood, 
the plain was already sunken in pearly greyness, and 
a great, pale moon came swinging skyward through the 

filmy poplars. 

The Doctor sang, the Doctor whistled, the Doctor 
talked. He spoke of the woods, and the wars, and 
the deposition of dew ; he brightened and babbled of 
Paris ; he soared into cloudy bombast on the glories 
of the political airena. All was to be changed ; as the 
day departed, it took with it the vestiges of an outworn 
existence, and to-morrow's sun was to inaugurate the 
new. " Enough," he cried, " of this life of maceration I " 
His wife (still beautiful, or he was sadly partial) was 
to be no longer buried; she should now shine before 
society. Jean-Marie would find the world at his feet ; 
the roads open to success, wealth, honour,' and post- 
humous renown. "And O, by the way," said he, "for 
God's sake keep your tongue quiet 1 You are, of 
course, a very silent fellow; it is a quality I gladly 
recognise in you— silence, golden silence! But this 
is a matter of gravity. No word must get abroad; 
none but the good Casimir is to be trusted; we shall 
probably dispose of the vessels in England." 

"But are they not even ours?" the boy said, almost 
with a sob— it was the only time he had spoken. 

"Ours in this sense, that they are nobody else's," 
replied the Doctor. " But the State would have some 
claim. If they were stolen, for instance, we should 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 247 

be unable to demand their restitution; we should 
have no title; we should be unable even to com- 
municate with the police. Such is the monstrous 
condition of the law.^ It is a mere instance of what 
remains to be done, of the injustices that may yet 
be righted by an ardent, active, and philosophical 
deputy." 

Jean-Marie put his faith in Madame Desprez; and 
as they drove forward down the road from Bourron, 
between the rustling poplars, he prayed in his teeth, 
and whipped up the horse to an unusual speed. 
Surely, as soon as they arrived, madame would assert 
her character, and bring this waking nightmare to 
an end. 

Their entrance into Gretz was heralded and ac- 
companied by a most furious barking; all the dogs 
in the village seemed to smell the treasure in the 
noddy. But there was no one in the street, save 
three lounging landscape painters at Tentaillon's door. 
Jean-Marie opened the green gate and led in the 
horse and carriage; and almost at the same moment 
Madame Desprez came to the kitchen threshold with 
a lighted lantern; for the moon was not yet high 
enough to clear the garden walls. 

"Close the gates, Jean-Marie!" cried the Doctor, 
somewhat unsteadily alighting. "Anastasie, where is 
Aline?" 

"She has gone to Montereau to see her parents," 
said madame. 

"All is for the best!" exclaimed the Doctor fer- 
vently. "Here, quick, come near to me; I do not 
* Let it be so, for my tale ! 



I 
i 






1 



148 THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

wish to speak too loud," he continued. "Darling,, we 
are wealthy ! " 

" Wealthy 1 " repeated the wife. 

"I have found the treasure of Franchard," replied 
her husband. "See, here are the first fruits; a pine- 
apple, a dress for my ever-beautiful — it will suit her 
— trust a husband's, trust a lover's, taste! Embrace 
me, darling! This grimy episode is over; the butter- 
fly unfolds its painted wings. To-morrow Casimir 
will come; in a week we may be in Paris — happy at 
last! You shall have diamonds. Jean-Marie, take 
it out of the boot, with religious care, and bring it 
piece by piece* into the dining-room. We shall have 
plate at table I Darling, hasten and prepare this 
turtle; it will be a whet — it will be an addition to 
our meagre ordinary. I myself will proceed to the 
cellar. We shall have a bottle of that little Beau- 
jolais you like, and finish with the Hermitage; there 
are still three bottles left. Worthy wine for a worthy 
occa^non." 

"But, my husband; you put me in a whirl," she 
cried. " I do not comprehend." 

"The turtle, my adored, the turtle!" cried the 
Doctor; and he pushed her towards the kitchen, lan- 
tern and all. 

Jean-Marie stood dumbfounded. He had pictured 
to himself a different scene — a more immediate protest, 
and his hope began to dwindle on the spot. 

The Doctor was everywhere, a little doubtful on 
his legs, perhaps, and now and then taking the wall 
with his shoulder ; for it was long since he had tasted 
absinthe, and he was even tiien reflecting that the 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD ,49 

absinthe had been a misconception. Not that he 
regretted excess on such a glorious day, but he made 
a mental memorandum to beware; he must not. a 
second time, become the victim of a deleterious habit. 
He had his wme out of the cellar in a twinkling; he 
airanged the sacrificial vessels, some on the white 
toble^loth, some on the sideboard, still crusted with 
historic earth. He was in and out of the kitchen, 
plying Anastasie with vermouth, heating her with 
glimpses of the future, estimating their new wealth at 
ever larger figures; and before they sat down to 
supper, the lady's virtue had melted in the fire of his 
enthusiasm, her timidity had disappeared; she. too, 
had begun to speak disparagingly of the life at Gretz • 
and as she took her place and helped the soup, her 
eyes shone with the glitter of prospective diamonds 

All through the meal, she and the Doctor made 
and unmade fairy plans. They bobbed and bowed 
and pledged each other. Their faces ran over with 
smiles; their eyes scattered sparkles, as they projected 
the Doctor s poUtical honours and the lady's drawing- 
room ovations. 

" But you will not be a Red ! " cried Anastasie. 

" I am Left Centre to the core," replied the Doctor. 

"Madame Gastein will present us-we shall find 
ourselves forgotten," said the lady 

"Never," protested the Doctor, 
leave a mark." 

"I have p :ively forgotten 
sighed. 

"Dariing, yon make me blush," cried he. 
has been a tragic marriage ! " 



" Beauty and talent 
how to dress," she 
" Yours 



S50 THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

" But your success — to see you appreciated, honoured, 
your name in all the papers, that will be more than 
pleasure — it will be heaven 1 " she cried. 

"And once a week," said the Doctor, archly scanning 
the syllables, "once a week— one good little game of 
baccarat ? " 

"Only once a week?" she questioned, threatening 
him with a finger. 

" I swear it by my political honour," cried he. 

" I spoil you," she said, and gave him her hand. 

He covered it with kisses. 

Jean-Marie * escaped into the night. The moon 
swung high over Gretz. He went down to the garden 
end and sat on the jetty. The river ran by with 
eddies of oily silver, and a low, monotonous song. 
Faint veils of mist moved among the poplars on the 
farther side. The reeds were quietly nodding. A 
hundred times already had the boy sat, on such a 
night, and watched the streaming river with untroubled 
fancy. And this perhaps was to be the last. He 
was to leave this familiar hamlet, this green, rustling 
country, this bright and quiet stream; he was to 
pass into the great city; his dear lady mistress was 
to move bedizened in saloons; his good, garrulous, 
kind-hearted master to become a brawling deputy; 
and both be lost for ever to Jean-Marie and their 
better selves. He knew his own defects; he knew 
he must sink into less and less consideration in the 
turmoil of a city life, sink more and more from the 
child into the servant. And he began dimly to 
believe the Doctor's prophecies of evil He could see 
a change in both. H's generous incredulity foiled 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 151 

him for thia once ; a child must have perceived that 
the Hermitage had completed what the absinthe had 
begun. If this were the first d., hat would be the 
last? "If necessary, wreck the train," thought he, 
remembering the Doctor's parable. He looked round 
on the delightful scene; he drank deep of the charmed 
night air, laden with the scent of hay. " If necessary, 
wreck the train," he repeated. And he rose and 
returned to the house. 



CHAPTER VI 

A CRIMINAL INVKSTICATION, IN TWO PARTS 

The next morning there was a most unusual outcry 
in the Doctor's house. The last thing before going 
to bed, the Doctor had locked up some valuables in 
the dining-room cupboard; and behold, when he rose 
again, as he did about four o'clock, the cupboard had 
been broken open, and the valuables in question had 
disappeared. Madame and Jean-Marie were sum- 
moned from their rooms, and appeared in hasty 
toilets; they found the Doctor raving, calling the 
heavens to witness and avenge his injury, pacing the 
room bare-footed, with the tails of his night-shirt 
flirting as he turned. 

"Gone!" he said; "the things are gone, the fortune 
gone! We are paupers once more. Boy! what do 
you know of this? Speak up, sir, speak up. Do you 
know of It? Where are they?" He had him by the 



II 



c 



111 



111' .• 



t 



i 



359 THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

arm, shaking him like a bag, and the boy's worda, 
if he had any, were jolted forth in inarticulate murmurs. 
The Doctor, with a revulsion from his own violence, 
set him down again. He observed Anastasie in tears. 
" Anastasie," he said, in quite an altered voice, " com- 
pose yourself, command your feelings. I would not 
have you give way to passion like the vulgar. This — 
this trifling accident must be lived down. Jean-Marie, 
bring me my smaller medicine chest. A gentle laxative 
is indicated." 

And he dozed the family all round, leading the 
way himself with a double quantity. The wretched 
Anastasie, who had never been ill in the whole course 
of her existence, and whose soul recoiled from remedies, 
wept floods of tears as she sipped, and shuddered, 
and protested, and then was bullied and shouted at 
until she sipped again. As for Jean-Marie, he took 
his portion down with stoicism. 

••I have given him a less amount," observed the 
Doctor, "his youth protecting him against emotion. 
And now that we have thus parried any morbid con- 
sequences, let us reason." 

" I am so cold," wailed Anastasie. 

" Cold ! " cried the Doctor. " I give thanks to God 
that I am made of fierier material. Why, madam, a 
blow like this would set a frog into a transpiration. If you 
are cold, you can retire; and, by the way, you might 
throw me down my trousers. It is chilly for the legs." 

" Oh, no 1 " protested Anastasie ; " I will stay with 

you." 

"Nay, madam, you shall not suffer for your de- 
votion," said the Doctor. "I will myself fetch you a 



THE TREASURE OF FRaNCHARD 253 
shawl." And he went upstairs and returned more 
fully clad and with an armful of wraps for the shiver- 
ing Anastasie. " And now," he resumed, " to investigate 
this crime. Let us proceed by induction. Anastasie, 
do you know anything that can help us?" Anastasie 
knew nothing. " Or you, Jean-Marie ? " 

'• Not I," replied the boy steadily. 

"Good," returned the Doctor. ••We shall now turn 
our attention to the material evidences. (I was bom 
to be a detective; I have the eye and the systematic 
spirit.) First, violence has been employed. The door 
was broken open; and it may be observed, in pass- 
ing, that the lock was dear indeed at what I paid for 
it : a crow to pluck with Master Goguelat. Second, 
here is the instrument employed, one of our own table- 
knives, one of our best, my dear ; which seems to in- 
dicate no preparation on the part of the gang— if gang it 
was. Thirdly, I observe that nothing has been removed 
except the Franchard dishes and the casket ; our own 
silver has been minutely respected. This is wily; it 
shows intelligence, a knowledge of the code, a desire to 
avoid legal consequences. I argue from this fact that 
the gang numbers persons of respectability— outward, 
of course, and merely outward, as the robbery proves! 
But I argue, second, that we must have been observed at 
Franchard itself by some occult observer, and dogged 
throughout the day with a skill and patience that I 
venture to qualify as consummate. No ordinary man, 
no occasional criminal, would have shown himself 
capable of this combination. We have in our neigh- 
bourhood, it is far from improbable, a retired bandit of 
the highest order of intelligence." 






aS4 THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

"Good heaven 1" cried the ho rifled Anastasie. 
" Henri, how can you ? " 

" My cherished one, this is a process of induction," 
said the Doctor. " If any of my steps are unsound, 
correct me. You are silent ? Then do not, I beseech 
you, be so vulgariy illogical as to revolt from my con- 
clusion. We have now arrived," he resumed, "at some 
idea of the composition of the gang— for I incline to 
the hypothesis of more than one — and we now leave 
this room, which can disclose no more, and turn our 
attention to the court and garden. (Jean-Marie, I 
trust you are observantly following my various steps; 
this is an excellent piece of education for you.) Come 
with me to fhe door. No steps on the court; it is 
unfortunate our court should be paved. On what 
small matters hang the destiny of thes« delicate in- 
vestigations 1 Hey ! What have we here? I have led 
you to the very spot," he said, standing grandly back- 
ward and indicating the green gate. "An escalade, 
as you can now see for yourselves, has taken place." 

Sure enough, the g^-een paint was in several places 
scratched and broken; and one of the panels pre- 
served the print of a nailed shoe. The foot had 
slipped, however, and it was difficult to estimate the 
size of the shoe, and impossible to distinguish the 
pattern of the nails. 

"The whole robbery," concluded the Doctor, "step 
by step, has been reconstituted. Inductive science 
can no further go." 

" It is wonderful," said his wife, 
deed have been a detective, Henri, 
your talents." 



" You should in- 
I had no idea of 



y 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 255 
"My dear," replied Desprez condescendingly, «a 
man of scientific imagination combines the lesser facul- 
ties; he is a detective just as he is a publicist or a 
general; these are but local applications of his special 
talent. But now," he continued, "would you have 
me go further? Would you have me lay my finger 
on the culprits-or rather, for I cannot promise quite 
so much, point out to you the very house where they 
consort? It may be a satisfaction, at least it is all 
we are likely to get, since we are denied the remedy 
of law. I reach the further stage in this way. In 
order to fill my outline of the robbery, I require a 
man likely to be in the forest idling, I require a 
man of education, I require a man superior to con- 
siderations of morality. The three requisites aU 
centre in Tentaillon's boarders. They are painters, 
therefore they are continually lounging in the forest.' 
They are painters, therefore they are not unlikely to 
have some smattering of education. Lastly, because 
they are painters, they are probably immoral. And 
this I prove in two ways. First, painting is an art 
which merely addresses the eye; it does not in any 
particular exercise the moral sense. And second, 
painting, in common with all the other arts, implies 
the dangerous quality of imagination. A man of 
imagination is never moral; he outsoars literal de- 
marcations and reviews life under too many shifting 
lights to rest content with the invidious distinctions 
of the law ! " 

"But you always say-at least, so I understood 
you —said madame, "that these lads display no 
imagination whatever" 



as6 THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

"My dear, they displayed imagination, and of a 
very fantastic order, too," returned the Doctor, "when 
they embraced their beggarly profession. Besides — 
and this is an argument exactly suited to your in- 
tellectual level — many of them are English and Ameri- 
can. Where else should we expect to find a thief? — 
And now you had better get your coffee. Because 
we have lost a treasure, there is no reason for starving. 
For my part, I shall break my fast with white wine. 
I feel unaccountably heated and thirsty to-day. I can 
only attribute it to the shock of the discovery. And yet, 
you will bear me out, I supported the emotion nobly." 

The Doctor had now talked himself back into an 
admirable humour; and as he sat in the arbour and 
slowly imbibed a large allowance of white wine and 
picked a little bread and cheese with no very im- 
petuous appetite, if a third of his meditations ran 
upon the missing treasure, the other two-thirds were 
more pleasingly busied in the retrospect of his detec- 
tive skill. 

About eleven Casimir arrived; he had caught an 
early train to Fontainebleau, and driven over to save 
time; and now his cab was stabled at Tentaillon's, 
and he remarked, studying his watch, that he could 
spare an hour and a half. He was much the man of 
business, decisively spoken, given to frowning in an 
intellectual manner. Anastasie's bom brother, he did 
not waste much sentiment on the lady, gave her an 
English family kiss, and demanded a meal without 
delay. 

"You can tell me your story while we eat," he 
observed. "Anything good to-day, Stasie?" 



THE TREASURE OK FRANCHARD ,5, 

do^' Z",I?°'-'^. """"""^ «"^- The trio M, 
^J^J^ "■*«"'«'". J<=an-M«ie waiting „ 

talked LI-. k"' ''°"" ''^°""'«^ "'""■^ 
neara it with explosions of laughter 

"What a streak of luck for you, my good brother' 
he observed, when the tale was over! "If yT^ 

'Z L ^tl '°" "™"' "^^^ P'»'«' dick dufk!^^ 
with the whole consignment in three months V^t 
own would have foUowed; and you wou"d t« IZ 
to me m a procession like the last time. ZlZ 
you waniing-Stasie may weep and Henri miociCe 
-It will not serve you twice. Your next colCrt! 

No'rsepi*""^'"'^""''^™-^-^' «;"; 

The Doctor winced and looked furtively at Tean 
Mane; but the boy seemed apathetic. ^ ^^' 

"And then again," broke out Casimir. "what chil 
dren you are-vicious children, my faith ^Z\ t 

worth nothmg, or next door." 

;;Not entirely ignorant of anything ever I heard 

with a sort of pert politeness. ^ ^^ 

"At least." resumed the Doctor, "I gave mv minH 

o the subject-that you may be 'willinf : bJie"- 

And he described the nature of the find. 







asS THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

" My word of honour 1 " taid Casimir, " I h«lf be- 
lieve you! But much would depend on the quality 

of the gold." 

"The quality, my dear Caamir, was " And 

the Doctor, in default of language, kissed his finger- 
tips. 

"I would not take your word for it, my good 
friend," retorted the man of business. "You are a 
man of very rosy views. But this robbery," he con- 
tinued— " this robbery is an odd thing. Of course I 
pass over your nonsense about gangs and landscape- 
painters, ^or me, that is a dream. Who was in 
the house last nigl;t ? " 

" None but ourselves," replied the Doctor. 
"And this young gentleman?" asked Casimir, 
jerking a nod in the direction of Jean-Marie. 
" He too "—the Doctor bowed. 
" Well ; and, if it is a fair question, who is he ? " 
pursued the brother-in-law. 

« Jean-Marie," answered the Doctor, " combines the 
functions of a son and stable-boy. He began as the 
latter, but he rose rapidly to the more honourable 
rank in our affections. He is, I may say, the greatest 
comfort in our lives." 

" Ha ! " said Casimir. " And previous to becoming 

one of you ? " 

"Jean-Marie has lived a remarkable existence; 
his experience has been eminently formative," replied 
Desprez. "If I had had to choose an education for 
my son, I should have chosen such another. Be- 
ginning life with mountebanks and thieves, passing 
onward to the society and friendship of philosophers, 



the brother-in-law, with 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD ,59 
te «y be said to have skimmed the volume of human 

"Thieves?" repeated 
meditative air. 

The Doctor could have bitten hi, tongue out. He 
for^aw what was coming, and prepared hfs ™ind for a 
Vigorous defence. 

inJ' «!hh^? "''"■f *^ yourself?" asked Casimir. turn- 
ing suddenly on Jean-Marie, and for the firs time 

'"'vrfir*""'!' 7fr "'^^' '""« --^ ^- neck 
Yes, sir. replied the boy. with a deep blush. 

noS^T T"^ '° '^" ^'^^^'^ ^"^ P"«^d lips, and 
nodded to them meaningly. .«Hey?»said he; "how 

DcZTlf '"' '" ' ''""' ^^ '^' ''^'^" ^-t^rned the 
Doctor, throwing out his bust. 

»K "u^ ^f. "*''''"■ *°^^ ^ "^'" ^^^^d '"adame. " He is 
the best of boys." 

"Ne^er told a lie, ha, he no. ?" reflected Casimir. 
JlTf: '7 «""«<• Give me your attention, my 
Sre"» • """""•'• " ^°" ^^^ »•»■" "-is 

^He helped to bring i, home," interposed the 

J^^''' ' "■" ''"" "°"''"8 '"" to hold your 

Zl'T"" ^"'"'"- "' """ 'o question Z 
Uble-boy of yours; and if you are so certain of his 

mnocen« you can alTord to let him answer for him- 

self Now, sir," he resumed, pointing his eyeelass 

^.ght at Jean-Marie. ..Vou knew it could be'^^ 

w.h .mpumty? You knew you could not be pro^ 

cuted? Come! Did you, or did you not?" 



26o THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

"I did," answered Jean-Marie, in a miserable 
whisper. He sat there changing colour like a re- 
volving pharos, twisting his fingers hysterically, 
swallowing air, the picture of guilt. 

"You knew where it was put?" resumed the m- 

quisitor. 

" Yes," from Jean-Marie. 

" You say you have been a thief before," continued 
Casimir. " Now how am I to know that you are not 
one still? I suppose you could climb the green 

gate?" 

" Yes," still lower, from the culprit 
'•Well, theh, it was you who stole these things. 
You know it, and you dare not deny it. Look me in 
the face ! Raise your sneak's eyes, and answer !" 

But in place of anything of that sort Jean-Mane 
broke into a dismal howl and fled from the arbour. 
Anastasie, as she pursued to capture and reassure the 
victim, found time to send one Parthian arrow— 
" Casimir, you are a brute ! " 
" My brother," said Despre/, with the greatest dignity, 

" you take upon yourself a lictA'^e " 

"Desprez," interrupted C>..imir, "for Heaven's sake 
be a man of the world. You telegraph me to leave 
my business and come down here on yours. I come, 
I ask the business, you say 'Find me this thief!' 
Well, I find him; I say 'There he is!' You need 
not like it, but you have no manner of right to take 

offence." 

"Well," returned the Doctor, "I grant that; I will 
even thank you for your mistaken zeal. But your 
hypothesis was so extravagantly monstrous " 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD a6i 

"Look here," interrupted Casimir; "was it you or 
Stasie?" ' 

" Certainly not," answered the Doctor. 

"Very well; then it was the boy. Say no more 
about it," said the brother-in-law, and he produced 
his cigar-case. 

"I will say this much more," returned Desprez : 
"if that boy came and told me so himself, I should 
not believe him ; and if I did believe him, so implicit 
is my trust, I should conclude that he had acted for 
the best." 

" Well, well," said Casimir indulgently. •' Have you 
a light? I must be going. And by the way, I wish 
you would let me sell your Turks for you. J always 
told you, it meant smash. I tell you so again. In- 
deed, it was partly that that brought me down. You 
never acknowledge my letters— a most unpardonable 
habit." 

" My good brother," replied the Doctor blandly, " I 
have never denied your ability in business; but I can 
perceive your limitations." 

"Egad, my friend, I can return the compliment," 
observed the man of business. " Your limitation is to 
be downright irrational." 

"Observe the relative position," returned the Doctor 
with a smile. "It is your attitude to believe through 
thick and thin in one man's judgment — your own. 
I follow the same opinion, but critically and with 
open eyes. Which is the more irrational?—! leave it 
to yourself." 

" O, my dear fellow ! " cried Casimir, " stick to your 
Turks, stick to your stable-boy, go to the devil in 



96a THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

general in your own way and be done with it. But 
don't ratiocinate with me — I cannot bear it And so, 
ta-ta. I might as well have stayed away for any good 
I've done. Say good-bye from me to Stasie, and to 
the sullen hang-dog of a stable-boy, if you insist on 
it ; I'm off." 

And Casimir departed. The Doctor, that night, 
dissected his character before Anastasie. " One thing, 
my beautiful," he said, "he has leaned one thing 
from his lifelong acquaintance with your husband : the 
word ratiocinate. It shines in his vocabulary, like a 
jewel in a muck-heap. And, even so, he continually 
misapplies it. < For you must have observed he uses it 
as a sort of taunt, in the sense of to ergotiscy implying, 
as it were — the poor, dear fellow ! — a vein of sophistry. 
As for his cruelty to Jean-Marie, it must be forgiven 
him — it is not his nature, it is the nature of his life. 
A man who deals with money, my dear, is a man lost." 

With Jean-Marie the process of reconciliation had 
been somewhat slow. At first he was inconsolable, 
insisted on leaving the family, went from paroxysm 
to paroxysm of tears ; and it was only after Anastasie 
had been closeted for an hour with him, alone, that 
she came forth, sought out the Doctor, and, with tears 
in her eyes, acquainted that gentleman with what had 
passed. 

"At first, my husband, he would hear of nothing," 
she said. " Imagine I if he had left us ! what would 
the treasure be to that? Horrible treasure, it has 
brought all this about! At last, after he has sobbed 
his very heart out, he agrees to stay on a condition — 
we are not to mention this matter, this infamous sus- 



THE TREASURE OP FRANCHARD 163 
(nckni, not even to mention the robbery. On that 
agreement only, the poor, cruel boy will consent to 
remain among his friends." 

"But this inhibition," said the Doctor, "this em- 
baigo— it cannot possibly apply to me ? " 

"To all of us," Anastasie assured him. 

" My cherished one," Desprez protested, •• you must 
have misunderstood. It cannot apply to me. He 
would naturally come to me." 

" Henri," she said, ♦' it does ; I swear to you it 
does." 
I "This is a painful, a very painful circumstance," 

the Doctor said, looking a little black. "I cannot 
affect, Anastasie, to be anything but justly wounded. 
I feel this, I feel it, my wife, acutely." 

"I knew you would," she said. "But if you had 
seen his distress ! We must nuke allowances, we must 
sacrifice our feelings." 

" I trust, my dear, you have never found nie avers* 
to sacrifices," returned the Doctor very stiffly. 

"And you will let me go and tell him that you 
have agreed? It will be like your noble nature," she 
cried. 

So it would, he perceived— it would be like his 
noble nature! Up jumped his spirits, triumphant at 
the thought. "Go, darling," he said nobly, "reassure 
him. The subject is buried; more— I make an efibrt, 
I have accustomed my will to these exertions — and it 
is forgotten." 

A little after, but still with swollen eyes and look- 
ing mortally sheepish, Jean - Marie reappeared and 
went ostentatiously about his business. He was the 



t64 THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

only unhappy member of the party that sat down that 
night to supper. As for the Doctor, he was radiant. 
He thus sang the requiem of the treasure: — 

"This has been, on the whole, a most amusing 
episode," he said. " We are not a penny the worse — 
nay, we are immensely gainers. Our philosophy has 
been exercised; some of the turtle is still left — the 
most wholesome of delicacies ; I have my staff, Anas* 
tasie has her new dress, Jean-Marie is the proud 
possessor of a fashionable k^pi. Besides, we had a 
glass of Hermitage last night; the glow still suffuses 
my memory. I was growing positively niggardly with 
that Hermitage, positively niggardly. Let me take 
the hint : we had one bottle to celebrate the appearance 
of our visionary fortune ; let us have a second to con- 
sole us for its occultation. The third I hereby dedicate 
to Jean-Marie's wedding breakfast." 



CHAPTER VII 



THK FALL OF THE HOUSE OF DESPREZ 



The Doctor's house has not yet received the compli- 
ment of a description, and it is now high time that 
the omission were supplied, for the house is itself an 
actor in the story, and one whose part Is nearly at an 
end. Two stories in height, walls of a. warm yellow, 
tiles of an ancient ruddy brown diversified with moss 
and lichen, it stood with one wall to the street in the 
angle of the Doctor's property. It was roomy, draughty, 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD ,65 
jmd inconvenient. The Urge rafters were here and 
theie «,gray« with rude marics and patterns ; the 
handimil of the stair was carved i„ countrified ara- 
bcKiue; a stout timber pillar, which did duty to sup- 
port the d.nmg-room roof, bore mysteaous character 
on It. darker side, runes, according to the Doctor • 
nor did he fail, when he nn over the legendary history' 
of the house and its possessors, to dwell upon the 
Scandinavian scholar who had left them. Floors, 
doors, and rafters made u great variety of angles- 
ev»y room had a i«rticular inclination; the gable 
had tilted towards the garden, after the manner of a 
leaning tower, and one of the former proprietors had 
buttressed the building from that side with a great 
strut of wood, like the derrick of a crane. Altogether, 
It had many marks of ruin ; it was a house for the 
Hits to desert; and nothing but its excellent bright- 
ne«»-the window-glass polished and shining, the paint 
well scoured, the brasses radiant, the very prop all 
wreathed about with climbing flowers-nothing but it. 
au- of a well-tended, smiling veteran, sitting, crutch 
and all, m the sunny corner of a garden, marked it 
t. a house for comfortable people to inhabit. In poor 
or Idle management it would soon have hurried into 
the blackguard stages of decay. As it was, the whole 
family loved it, and the Doctor was never better in- 
spu-ed than when he narrated its imaginary story and 
^ew the character of its successive masters, from the 
Hebrew merchant who had re-edified its walls after 
the sack of the town, and past the mysterious engmver 
of the runes, down to the long-headed, dirty-handed 
«)oor from whom he had himself acquired it at a 



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a66 THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

ruinous expense. As for any alarm about its security, 
the idea had never presented itself. What had stood 
four centuries might well endure a little longer. 

Indeed, in this particular winter, after the find- 
ing and losing of the treasure, the Desprez' had an 
anxiety of a very different order, and one which lay 
nearer their hearts. Jean-Marie was plainly not him- 
self. He had fits of hectic activity, when he made 
unusual exertions to please, spoke more and faster, 
and redoubled in attention to his lessons. But these 
were interrupted by spells of melancholia and brood 
ing silence, when the boy was little better than un- 
bearable. 

"Silence," the Doctor moralised — "you see, Anas- 
tasie, what comes of silence. Had the boy properly un- 
bosomed himself, the little disappointment about the 
treasure, the little annoyance about Casimir's incivility, 
would long ago have been forgotten. As it is, they 
prey upon him like a disease. He loses flesh, his 
appetite is variable and, on the whole, impaired. I 
keep him on the strictest regimen, I exhibit the most 
powerful tonics ; both in vain." 

" Don't you think you drug him too much ? " asked 
madame, with an irrepressible shudder. 

"Drug?" cried the Doctor; "I drug? Anastasie. 
you are mad ! " 

Time went on, and the boy's health still slowly 
declined. The Doctor blamed the weather, which 
was cold and boisterous. He called in his confr}rt 
from Bourron, took a fancy for him, magnified his 
oqiacity, and was pretty soon under treatment him- 
lelf it scarcely appeared for what complaint He 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 267 
and Jean-Marie had each medicine to take at different 
penods of the day. The Doctor used to Ue in wait 
tor the exact moment, watch in hand. "There is 
nothing Hke regularity," he would say, fill out the 
doses, and dilate on the virtues of the draught; and 
If the boy seemed none the better, the Doctor was not 
at all the worse. 

Gunpowder Day, the boy was particularly low. It 
was scowling, squally weather. Huge broken com- 
pames of cloud sailed swiftly overhead; raking gleams 
of sunlight swept the village, and were followed by 
intervals of darkness and white, flying rain. At times 
the wind lifted up its voice and bellowed. The trees 
were all scourging themselves along the meadows, the 
last leaves flying like dust. 

The Doctor, between the boy and the weather, 
was m his element; he had a theory to prove. He 
sat with his watch out and a barometer in front of 
him, waiting for the squalls and noting their effect 
upon the human pulse. "For the true philosopher" 
he remarked delightedly, "every fact in nature is a 
toy." A letter came to him; but, as its arrival coin- 
aded with the approach of another gust, he merely 
crammed it into his pocket, gave the time to Jean- 
Mane, and the next moment they were both counting 
their pulses as if for a wager. 

At nightfall the wind rose into a tempest. It be- 
sieged the hamlet, apparently from every side, as if 
with batteries of cannon; the houses shook and 
groaned; Uve coals were blown upon the floor. The 
uproar and terror of the night kept people long awake, 
Mttmg with pallid faces giving ear. 



a68 THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

It was twelve before the Dcsprez family retired 
By half-past one, when the storm was already some- 
what past its height, the Doctor was awakened from 
a troubled slumber, and sat up. A noise still rang 
in his ears, but whether of this world or the world of 
dreams he was not certain. Another clap of wind 
followed. It was accompanied by a sickening move- 
ment of the whole house, and in the subsequent lull 
Desprez could hear the tiles pouring like a cataract 
into the loft above his head. He plucked Anastasie 
bodily out of bed. 

"Run!" he cried, thrusting some wearing apparel 
into her hands; "the house is falling! To the 
garden ! " 

She did not pause to be twice bidden; she was 
down the stair in an instant. She had never before 
suspected herself of such activity. The Doctor mean- 
while, with the speed of a piece of pantomime business, 
and undeterred by broken shins, proceeded to rout 
out Jean-Marie, tore Aline from her virgin slumbers, 
seized her by the hand, and tumoled downstairs and 
into the garden, with the girl tumbling behind him, 
still not half awake. 

Tlie fugitives rendezvous'd in the arbour by some 
common instinct. Then came a bull's-eye flash of 
struggling moonshine, which disclosed their four figures 
standing huddled from the wind in a raffle of flying 
drapery, and not without a considerable need for more. 
At the humiliating spectacle Anastasie clutched her 
nightdress desperately about her and burst loudly into 
tears. The Doctor flew to console her ; but she elbowed 
him away. She suspected everybody of being the 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD ,69 
»»e^^^ public, and «.o„gh. U.. da,h,e« wa. .Hv. 

eoX'^thfr "■" ""'*'' ™'"" «^' "rived 
non,,nd,,ust « the light was once more eclipsed 
liT "*""*, 'y'umphed over the shouting of fte 
wind announced .ts &I1, and for a moment the whole 
garden was aUve with .kipping .jie, a„d bricTbltt 
One such m^sile grazed the Doctor's ear; ^oA^ 
d^ded on tl>e ba« foot of Aline, who' iTt^nt 
made night hideous with her shrieks. ^ 

By this time the hamlet was aUrmed, lii-hts flash«i 
fi-u the windows, hails reached the pjf'and .^ 
Doctor answered, nobly contending ^L^ Alte! 
«d*e tempest. But this prospec't of MpZl 
a^kened Anastasie to a more active st^e^^ 

hul'Sr"' ""' ■" """'■^■■' *' =^'-"«' " »« 
"I trust SO," he replied. 
"They cannot. I would mther die," she wailed. 

excited' 7' '"'^ ''' ""^^^^^ ^^P^°^"g>y' "yo^ are 
exated I gave you some clothes. What have you 
done with them?" «vc you 

" Oh. I don't ku ..-I must have thrown them away ! 
Where are they?" she sobbed. ^ 

Desprez groped about in the darkness. "Admir- 
able! he remarked; "my grey velveteen trousers! 
Ihis will exactly meet your necessities." 

asZTfr'"''"!-"'^' cried fiercely; but as soon 
« she had them m her hands her mood appeared to 
alter^she stood silent for a moment, and th'rpr^s^ 



a 70 THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

the garment back upon the Doctor. " Give it to Aline,'' 
she said — " poor girl." 

"Nonsense!" said thr doctor. "Aline does not 
know what she is about Aline is beside herself with 
terror ; and at any rate, she is a peasant. Now I am 
really concerned at this exposure for a person of your 
housekeeping habits ; my solicitude and your fantastic 
modesty both point to the same remedy — the panta- 
loons." He held them ready. 

*' It is impossible. You do not understand," she said 
with dignity. 

By this time rescue was at hand. It had been 
found impracticable to enter by the street, for the 
gate was blocked with masonry, and the nodding ruin 
still threatened further avalanches. But between the 
Doctor's garden and the one on the right hand there 
was that very picturesque contrivance — a common 
well ; the door on the Desprez' side had chanced to be 
unbolted, and now, through the arched aperture a man's 
bearded face and an arm supporting a lantern were 
introduced into the world of windy darkness where 
Anastasie concealed her woes. The light struck here 
and there among the tossing apple borghs, it glinted 
on the grass ; but the lantern and the glowing face 
became the centre of the world. Anastasie crouched 
back from the intrusion. 

" This way ! " shouted the man. " Are you all safe ? " 

Aline, still screaming, ran to the new comer, and 
was presently hauled head-foremost through the wall. 

" Now, Anastasie, come on ; it is your turn," said 
the husband. 

" I cannot." she replied. 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD tji 

" Are we all to die of exposure, madame ? " thundered 
Doctor Desprez. 

"You can go!" she cried. "Oh, go, go away! I 
can stay here : I am quite warm." 

The Doctor took her by the shoulders with an oath. 

" Stop ! " she screamed. " I will put them on." 

She took the detested lendings in her hand once more ; 
but her repulsion was stronger than shame. *• Never I " 
she cried, shuddering, and flung them far away into 
the night. 

Next moment the Doctor had whirled her to the 
well. The man was there and the lantern; Anastasie 
closed her eyes and appeared to herself to be about to 
die. How she was transported through the arch she 
knew not ; but once on the otlier side she was received 
by the neighbour's wife, and enveloped in a friendly 
blanket. 

Beds were made ready for the two women, clothes 
of very various sizes for the Doctor and Jean-Marie; 
and for the remainder of the night, while madame 
dozed in and out on the borderland of hysterics, her 
husband sat beside the fire and held forth to the ad- 
miring neighbours. He showed them, at length, the 
causes of the accident ; for years, he explained, the fall 
had been impending; one sign had followed another, 
the joints had opened, the plaster had cracked, the old 
walls bowed inward; last, not three weeks ago, the 
cellar door had begu to work with difficulty in its 
grooves. "The cellar!" he said, gravely shaking his 
head over a glass of mulled wine. " That reminds me 
of my poor vintages. By a manifest providence the 
Hermitage was nearly at an end. One bottle— I lose 



m 



a7» THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

but one bottle of that incomparable wine. It had been 
set apart against Jean-Marie's wedding. Well, I must 
lay down some more; it will be an interest in life. I 
am, however, a man somewhat advanced in years. My 
great work is now buried in the fall of my humble roof; 
it will never be completed — my name will have been 
writ in water. And yet you find me calm— I would 
say cheerful. Can your priest do more ? " 

By the first glimpse of day the party sallied forth 
from the fireside into the street. The wind had fallen, 
but still charioted a world of troubled clouds; the air 
bit like frost; and the party, as they stood about the 
ruins in the rainy twilight of the morning, beat upon 
their breasts and blew into their hands for warmth. 
The house hfid entirely fallen, Ihe walls outward, the 
roof in ; it was a mere heap of rubbish, with here and 
there a forlorn spear of broken rafter. A sentinel was 
placed over the ruins to protect the property, and the 
party adjourned to Tentaillon's to break their fast at the 
Doctor's expense. The bottle circulated somewhat freely ; 
and before they left the table it had begun to snow. 

For three days the snow continued to full, and the 
ruins, covered with tarpaulin and watched by sentries, 
were left undisturbed. The Desprez' meanwhile had 
taken up their abode at Tentaillon's. Madame spent 
her time in the kitchen, concocting little delicacies, 
with the admiring aid of Madame Tentaillon, or sitting 
by the fire in thoughtful abstraction. The fall of the 
house affected her wonderfully little; that blow had 
been parried by another ; and in her mind she was con- 
tinually fighting over again the battle of the trousers. 
Had she done right? Had she done wrong? And 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD ,7, 

now she would applaud her determination ; and anon, 
with a homd flush of unavailing penitence, she would 
regret the trousers. No juncture in her ^e had so 
much exercised her judgment. In the meantime the 
Doctor had become vastly pleased with his situation, 
iwo of the summer boarders still lingered behind the 
rest, prisoners for lack of a remittance ; they were both 
Ei^lish, but one of them spoke French pretty fluently 
and was, besides, a humorous, agile-minded fellow, with 
whom the Doctor could reason by the hour, secure of 
comprehension. Many were the glasses they emptied, 
many the topics they discussed. 

^^ " Anastasie," the Doctor said on the third morning, 
take an example from your husband, from Jean-Marie • 
The excitement has done more for the boy than all my 
tonics, he takes his turn as sentry with positive gusto. 
As for me. you behold me. I have made friends with 
the Egyptians; and my Pharaoh is, I swear it, a most 
agreeable companion. You alone are hipped. About 
a house-a few dresses ? What are they in comparison 
to the Pharmacopoeia '-the labour of years lying 
buned below stones and sticks in this depressing 
hamlet? The snow falls; I shake it from my cloak • 
mtate me. Our income will be impaired, I grant it 
since we must rebuild; but moderation, patience, and 
philosophy will gather about the hearth. In the mean- 
while, the TentaiUons are obliging ; the table, with your 
additions, will pass ; only the wine is execrable-well i 
shall send for some to-day. Mv Pharaoh will be grati- 
fied to dnnk a decent glass ; aha ! and I shall see if 
he possesses that acme of organisation-a palate. If 
he nas a palate, he is perfect." 



174 THE TREASURE OF KRANCHART) 



"Henri," she said, shaking her head, "you are a 
man; you cannot understand my feelings; no woman 
could shake off the memory of so public a humiliation." 

The Doctor could not restrain a titter. "Pardon 
me, darling," he said; "but really, to the philosophical 
intelligence, the incident appears so small a trifle. 
You looked extremely well " 

" Henri ! " she cried. 

"Well, well, I will say no more," he replied. 
"Though, to be sure, if you had consented to indue 

A "opos"' he broke off, •• and my trousers ! They 

are lying in the snow— my favourite trousers!'* And 
he dashed in quest of Jean- Marie. 

Two hours afterwards the boy rtrurned to the inn 
with a spade under one ar.n and a curious sop of 
clothing under the other. 

The Doctor ruefully took it in his hands. "They 
have been ! " he said. " Their tense is past. E.:cellent 
pantaloons, you are no more ! Stay, something in the 
pocket," and he produced a piece of paper. "A letter! 
ay, now I mind me ; it was received on the morning of 
the gale, when I was absorbed in delicate investigations. 
It is stiil legible. From poor, dear Casimir! It is 
as well," he chuckled, "that I have educated him to 
patience. Poor Casimir and his correspondence — his 
infinitesimal, timorous, idiotic correspondence ! " 

He had by this time cau'.iously unfolded the wet 
letter ; but, as he bent himself to decipher the writing, 
a cloud descended op his brow. 

" Bigre/" he cried, with a galvanic start. 

And then the letter war, whipped into the fire, and the 
Doctor's cap was on his head in the turn of a hand 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 275 
•• Ten minutes I I can catch it, if I run," he cried. 
'• li is always late. I go to Paria. I shall telegraph." 
•' Henri 1 what is wrong?" cried his wife. 

Ottoman Bonds!" came from the disapi)earing 
octor; and Anastasie »nd Jean Marie were le'^t face 
to face with the wet t-^asers. Dc^prez had gone to 
Paris, for the second time in seven yearj ; he had gone 
to Paris with a pair of wooden shres, a knitted spencer, 
a black blouse, a country nightcap, and twenty francs 
in his pocket. The fall of the house was but a secondary 
marvel; the whole world might have fallen and scarce 
left bis family more petrified. 



CHAPTER Vni 



THE WAOKS OF PHILOSOPHY 

On the morning of the next day, the Doctor, a mere 
spectre of himself, was brought back in the custody of 
'"asimir. They found Anastasie and the boy sitting 
to^^ether by the fire ; and Desprez, who had exchanged 
his toilette for r ready-made rig-out of poor materials, 
waved his hand as he entered, and sank speechless on 
the nearest chair. Madame tumt^ direct to Casimir. 

" What is wrong ? " she cried. 

" Well," leplied Casimir, " what have I told you all 
along? It has come. It is a clean shave, this time; 
so you may as well bear up and makf the best 
of it. House down, too, eh? jbd luck, upon my 
soul." 



m^^ 



!i!' 



t76 THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

" At"! we — are we — ruined ? " she ga&ped. 

The Doctor stretched out his arms to her. 
" Ruined," he replied, "you arc ruined by your sinister 
husband." 

Caiimir observed the consequent embrace through his 
eyeglass ; then he turned to Jean-Marie. " You hear ? " 
he said. •• They are ruined ; no more pickings, 
no more house, no more fat cutlets. It strikes me, 
my friend, that you had best be packing; the present 
speculation is about worked out." And he nodded to 
him meaningly. 

"Never!" cried Desprez, springing up. "Jean- 
Marie, if you prefer to leave me, now that I am poor, 
you can go j you shall receive your hundred francs, if 
so much remains to me. But if you will consent to 
sUy "—the Doctor wept a little—" Casimir offers me a 
place — as clerk," he resumed. "The emoluments are 
slender, but they will be enough tor three. It is too 
much already to have lost my fortune; must I lose 
my son ? " 

Jean-Marie sobbed bitterly, but without a word. 

"I don't like boys who cry," observed Casimir. 
"This one is always crying. Here! you clear out of 
this for a little ; I have business with your master and 
mistress, and these domestic feelings .nay be settled 
after I am gone. March!" and he held the door 
open. 

Jean-Marie slunk out, like a detected thief. 

By twelve they were all at table but Jean-Marie. 

" Hey ? " said Casimir. " Gone, you see. Took the 
hint at once " 

" I do not, I confess," said Desprez, " I do not seek 



THK TREASURR 0*r FRANCHARI) ,„ 

to «CUK hi. ,b«„ce. r. .peak, a ,„, of hcrt th.. 
dinppoinu me lorely." 

he never h«J. Why, Ue.prez, fo, , clever fellorTou 
« Jhe ™o., gulhble mortal in cre..,on. Your "»„" 

behef. You are .windled by heathen Turks .windled 
^v^abond children, .windled right and uk^^ 
»d dow„.u,r,. I think it mu.t be your ir ,giLT 
I thank my stan I have none." (!'n»non. 

wiA^'M'T """r '^^''^ ""'"•'' •«" '■■imbly, but 
drawn; "pardon „e, Casimir. :..u po..e.,, even to 
" *"'"«"' O^". 'he commercial imaginktion {t 
wa. the lack of that u, me-it appear, 1^^^™° ,eA 
pomt-that h« led to .h.« re^ed .hocT' t 
the commercial imagination the financier forecaatt the 
de.nny of h» investment,, m„k. the falling ho^!^" 
Egad, int^mpted Caaimir: "our friend the atable- 
boy appeara to have his share of it." 

The £)octor wa, silenced; and the meal was con 
nnued and finished principally ,o the tune "the 
brother-m-IaWs not very consolatory conversarion. He 

turning a blind eyeglass to their sriutations, and con! 
tmumgh., remark, a, if he were alone in the bosom 
^ h.s f«nily; and with every i«cond word he ripped 
»ott,er ..Itch out of the air balloon of Despre^'s va^ty. 
By the time coflee was over the poor Doctor wa, „ 
ump as a napkin. 

''Let us go and see the ruins," said Casimir 

They strolled forth into the street. The fall of 



878 THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

the house, like the loss of a front tooth, had quite 
transformed the village. Through the gap the eye 
commanded a great stretch of open snowy country, 
and the place shrank in comparison. It was like a 
room with an open door. The sentinel stood by the 
green gate, looking very red and cold, but he had a 
pleasant word for the Doctor and his wealthy kins- 
man. 

Casimir looked at the mound of ruins, he tried the 
quality of the tarpaulin. •• H'm," he said, " I hope the 
cellar arch has stood. If it has, my good brother, I 
will give you a good price for the wines." 

" We shall start digging to-morrow," said the sentry. 
" There is no more fear of snow." 

"My friend," returned Casimir sententiously, "you 
had better wait till you get paid." 

The Doctor winced, and began dragging his offen- 
sive brother-in-law towards Tentaillon's. In the house 
there would be fewer auditors, and these already in the 
secret of his fall. 

" Hullo ! " cried Casimir, " there goes the stable-boy 
with his luggage; no, egad, he is taking it into the 
inn." 

And sure enough, Jean-Marie was seen to cross the 
snowy street and enter Tentaillon's, staggering under 
a large hamper. 

The Doctor stopped with a sudden, wild hope. 

"What can he have?" he said. "Let us go and 
see." And he hurried on. 

" His luggage, to be sure," answered Casimir. " He 
is on the move — thanks to the commercial imagina- 
tion." 



THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD ,„ 

unless, mdeed, we interfere. And by the wav I ind.. 
on an eramination." '^' ""'" 

with a sob and, casting a moist, triumphant glance 
at Casimir, he began to run. * 

reaected, and then, curiosity taking the upper hand 
h.^_fol.owed the Doctor', example and Z to ht 

himself so little and so weary, that it had taken him a 
great while to bundle it upstairs to the l)espre!"pri™,e 

f«.nt of nastasie, when the Doctor arrived, and wis 
cosely followed by the man of business. B^y „d 

had passed four months undeiground in a certain cave 
on e way to Achires. and the other had run abouti" 

dlt^c'u^dl",'" -^ '•""' ^''"^ "■■■»■ "^'f «^ 
aistance under a staggeruig weight. 

oniyr"^*"^. ™'' "« °°<="''' '■> » "<"•« that was 
only .«, «„ph,c ,o ,e called hysterical, "is i._" 

Kis! hecned. "O, my son. my son!" And he 
^.^^down upon the hamper and sobbed like a little 

you see that boy. that angel boy? He is the thief; 



iSo THE TREASURE OF FRANCHARD 

he took the treasure from a man unfit to be -entrusted 
with its use; he brings it back to me when^I am 
sobered and humbled. These, Casimir, are the Fruits 
of my Teaching, and this moment is the Reward of 
my Life." 

" Tiens" said Casimir. 



THE END 



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